Q&A: Athena Tavoulari: “There is a growing focus on cost containment”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 20 Jan 2016

Partner at Boyden Global Executive Search discusses labour market and recruitment trends in 2016

Athena TavoulariThe Middle East's labour market will show a degree of tempered optimism around C-level executive hiring across the region in 2016, predicts Athena Tavoulari. She tells People Management the top recruitment trends to look out for this year.

How will the labour market look in 2016?
For many sectors in the Middle East, slow or even no growth is expected, and there is a growing focus from organisations on cost containment. In the area of human resources, such measures include training restrictions (especially when training includes travelling abroad) but also limited merit increases and bonus awards.
A growing number of organisations in the GCC region are reviewing their total reward strategies by enhancing the part of overall compensation that is directly related to performance, and by focusing on long-term retention programmes for top performers. In terms of employee benefits, the rising cost of private medical insurance premiums ¬– a result of expensive medical treatments and limited regulation – is leading a rising number of organisations to introduce premium co-sharing or co-insurance in their medical plan designs.
What are the key recruitment trends for the region this year?
Leadership development: The focus is expected to be mostly on developing leaders internally who are ready for their next career step.
Employer branding: Every organisation has an employer brand, which is how employees and candidates perceive the organisation as a workplace. Not all organisations, however, make an effort to actively guide and promote it. The employment brand can help an organisation attract and close top-tier talent, or it can deter candidates from considering the opportunity in-hand or accepting an offer. As the talent shortage extends into 2016, more organisations will monitor, steer and promote their employer brand to make sure it reflects the image they want to portray to candidates.
Candidate nurturing: Between active and passive candidates, some aren’t yet ready to make a move, some aren’t currently qualified, and others would be a great fit if organisations only had an open position for them. Organisations will be more closely nurturing candidates, building relationships with people who they may want to hire at some point in the future. Investing in the talent pipeline well ahead of time will ensure that organisations have the talent they need, when they need it.
Diversity: Another trend shaping the future global workforce is diversity. In 2016, we should see a far more diverse workforce in terms of age, ethnicity and religion. But in the Middle East – which is already quite diverse ¬– the focus will continue to be on nationalisation and how organisations can employ and develop nationals.
Flexibility: Technology is driving a trend towards increased flexibility. Employees are no longer tethered to their desks because it is easier than ever to work any time, anywhere. Flexible work schedules and remote work can help an organisation expand its talent pool because it won’t be limited to local candidates, or to those who are willing to relocate. When everyone else is struggling to find skilled employees, organisations that offer flexible working options will have a larger talent pool from which to recruit.