Is re-defining job roles enough to attract Emiratis?

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 5 Oct 2016

Why more flexibility may help companies recruit and develop talent in the hospitality industry

Receptionist jobs could one day be re-defined as ‘cultural ambassadors’, said panellists at the Vision Conference 2016 in Dubai, as they agreed there needs to be more flexibility when it comes to creating roles.
HR professionals from the UAE’s hospitality sector met at the conference to discuss how to attract more nationals to work in the industry.
Jumeirah Group believes that for some operational or guest-facing roles at junior or management levels, a change in job title may play a significant role in keeping nationals highly engaged.
“Since the hospitality industry is often regarded as one with long working hours, re-defining a role can often be considered to appeal more to nationals at entry level or in guest-facing roles,” said Safiya Al Matrooshi, group director of UAE National Recruitment & Development at Jumeirah Group.
But changing job titles alone is not enough, said Professor William Scott-Jackson, chairman of Oxford Strategic Consulting.
He said: “Many UAE-based companies, and others across the GCC for that matter, face difficulties when trying to attract, recruit and develop Emiratis. While thinking carefully about job roles intended for UAE nationals is an important step, this means going beyond simply changing the job title.
“Changing the job title of ‘receptionist’ to ‘cultural ambassador’ may increase initial interest during the recruitment process, but it holds little long-term value for the Emirati who fills the role. In fact, it may even negatively affect efforts to retain and develop new hires who feel that their job titles do not accurately reflect the job description.”
He added: “On the other hand, modifying a role’s function and responsibilities to deliver more value to the organisation – and to appeal to young Emiratis who want to make a difference to the country – is a good thing. So reviewing the role of receptionist and redefining it properly to truly become a ‘cultural ambassador’ could be very attractive and valuable. The hotel industry, in particular, could well benefit from the insights, knowledge and demonstration of Emirati culture and hospitality.”
This year’s Hotelier Middle East Salary Survey highlighted the importance of career progression opportunities to ensure staff commitment. And Oxford Strategic Consulting’s research has consistently demonstrated that nationals are most motivated by helping the country, contributing to society and making their family proud – whatever industry they work in.
“Companies should first identify how available roles can align with key motivations and then adjust job descriptions and titles accordingly,” said Robert Mogielnicki, head of PR and senior analyst at Oxford Strategic Consulting.
“Companies operating in specific industries should consider conducting targeted employment surveys, as key motivations can vary according to the industry preference of jobseekers.”
Private and semi-governmental organisations have begun to create initiatives to empower the Emiratisation programme in order to attract and reduce the turnover of nationals. “Basically, these initiatives aim to increase the sense of belonging the employee feels towards the organisation,” said Maher Al Okkeh, employee relations officer at RAK Free Trade Zone.
Organisations have included employees in the organisation of important events, such as UAE National Day celebrations and annual staff events. “Some companies have Emiratis as ambassadors or representatives to attend seminars and exhibitions even if their day-to-day job role does not match [that],” added Al Okkeh.