Q&A: Markus Wiesner: “You can’t assume employee loyalty anymore”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 03 Nov 2015

Aon Hewitt's regional CEO says organisations must work harder to engage staff in the face of fierce competition for talent

Markus WiesnerOne of the biggest challenges for organisations in the Middle East is holding on to talented employees. People Management spoke to Markus Weisner, Middle East and North Africa CEO of HR consulting and outsourcing firm Aon Hewitt, to find out how shifting demographics are affecting staff engagement and loyalty.

What's the secret to attracting and retaining talent? What are organisations in the region getting right – and doing wrong?
The need to attract and retain talent – particularly GCC nationals – is an increasing concern for organisations in the region.
Having a strong employer brand is key to attracting that talent. Companies need to understand their current reputation in the talent market and ensure that they offer a unique proposition. Current employees can provide a reasonable reflection of this. But outsiders from the target group (eg local market) are likely to be the best judges, so we recommend investing time and effort into getting their feedback.
Engaging existing employees is critical to retaining talent. Organisations cannot assume loyalty, commitment and motivation without making efforts to positively achieve this. However, before creating a strategy, it’s important to identify and focus on those areas of the employee work experience that most affect engagement. Employers should also evaluate the needs of different segments of their workforce. Adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work.
Finally, companies need to create an environment that supports career advancement – one that goes beyond conventional learning and development programmes.
How difficult is it for organisations to hang on to effective employees?
Keeping hold of good talent is hard – but the competition for great talent is fierce. Talent in the region is mobile and organisations are looking for diverse talent based on various criteria such as experience, nationalities and gender. Effective employees are more ambitious than ever and are looking to make faster moves up the career ladder, enjoy higher pay and a better workplace culture.
Employers need to understand the trends affecting their talent strategy. It is critical for leaders to connect economic challenges and emerging business imperatives to the workforce profile required for future success. Employee demographics will have a big impact on where talent will be available around the globe, and also on changing workers' expectations.
Organisations must deliver a compelling employee value proposition (EVP). Employees want to be valued and provide value in return. Many trends have created a disconnect between what businesses require, what they are offering and what staff expect in return to unlock their full engagement. A compelling and strategically aligned EVP results in employees who say positive things, will want to stay and will strive to go above and beyond in their jobs.
How can organisations develop their pipeline of leadership talent?
They need to help people become more aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses, and then enable them to use this information to become more effective leaders.
Employers also need to help future leaders develop resilience. They can do this by offering them ‘stretch’ experiences and support and encouragement to take risks and innovate, as well as helping them to learn quickly from failure.
Finally, potential leaders need to be developed into people who can connect strongly with teams, can connect those teams to an organisation’s purpose and mission, and are just as able to appeal to people’s minds as their hearts.