Opinion: flexible working arrangements are the key to Bahrainisation

Author: Galina Racheva | Date: 6 Apr 2016

Bahrain is lagging behind in the adoption of innovative working practices, says Galina Racheva

Galina RachevaOver the last decade, governments in all GCC countries have increasingly focused on making sure their economies are not as reliant on foreign labour as they used to be. Nationalisation has become a top priority for organisations in the private sector, either by necessity or because of the desire to tap into the potential of the young generation.
 
Bahrain is no exception. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country has the most skilled and educated workforce in the Gulf. A number of relevant initiatives have been launched to support the achievement of Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, including the introduction of national qualification framework and the establishment of Tamkeen in 2006 with a clear strategy to help develop the capabilities of Bahrainis.
 
While these initiatives have had a positive impact on the quality and quantity of skills of Bahrainis, it is unclear whether organisations are equipped with the knowledge and capabilities to attract and manage this increasingly capable workforce.
 
Flexible working is the key to attracting and managing a millennial workforce that looks for versatility and flexibility in the workplace, and strives for a strong work-life balance.
 
Developed countries have already recognised this, but Bahrain is lagging behind in the adoption of innovative working practices. A quick look at Bayt.com shows there are hardly any jobs that allow flexible working.
 
The CIPD describes flexible working as “a type of working arrangement which gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.” This can include anything from the familiar shift work or part-¬time hours, to more recent practices made available by technology, such as working from home.
 
Research by the CIPD has found a number of potential benefits, saying that example, “workers on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work, more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit.” Flexible working can also be used to improve recruitment efforts and work¬-life balance. Cost savings on office space, better matching existing resources to business and customer demands, and improved efficiency are additional benefits that organisations can achieve.
 
Like any change, introducing flexible working will require HR leadership. Training line managers to manage a flexible workforce and designing a robust performance management system, with a focus away from the traditional nine-to-five office hours towards individual results, are the first steps.
 
Galina Racheva is a founding partner and CHRO for My Secret Team.