Being the best: why engagement is a must

Written by
Elias Dib

23 Feb 2017

23 Feb 2017 • by Elias Dib

What makes a best employer?

We've identified globally consistent criteria for what makes a Best Employer, which involve delivering superior business performance through your people – leveraging best practices in the areas of employee engagement, leadership effectiveness, employer brand and culture, in order to drive high performance.

Our Best Employers 2016 research found that Best Employers achieve 25% stronger growth in revenue, 58% higher growth in profits, lower attrition and promote more employees from within.

What trends have you seen when analysing past data?

Many Middle Eastern Best Employers have excelled in a global landscape and have surpassed their counterparts on all four indicators (employee engagement, leadership effectiveness, employer brand and culture to drive high performance).

You do not become a Best Employer without strong leadership, with our best employers averaging 84% on the leadership meter. Organisations that excel on the leadership index are differentiated through the following four characteristics:

  1. Leaders set the tone for the importance of leadership by cultivating and developing talent.
  2. They pursue an unrelenting focus on talent beyond a typical performance -management cycle.
  3. Leadership programmes and practices are aligned with business strategy.
  4. Leadership is a way of life – it is embedded into the values and expected behaviours and culture of the organisation.

How can employers keep employees engaged?

We are at an inflection point. Economic, technological, demographic and social forces in the Middle East have put pressure on businesses in unprecedented ways. Employers need to move away from traditional HR practices and focus on providing a great employment experience to their workforce.

As we saw in our research, organisations need to take a holistic view beyond the employee engagement outcome.

Healthy businesses with strong cultures demonstrate concerted effort, and top quartile performance in not just employee engagement but also brand, performance orientation and leadership.

Employees want to be valued and they want to provide value in return. Many trends have created a disconnect between what organisations require, what they are offering and what employees expect in return, in order to unlock their full engagement.

Top engagement drivers such as career opportunities, pay for performance, and communication provide insight into how employees define value.

An employee value proposition (EVP) that clarifies the one or two things your organisation wants to be famous for, and delivers against this promise, is at the core of a strong reputation. Those that have a compelling and aligned EVP will have employees who say positive things about their organisation and will strive to go above and beyond.

What factors contribute to employee engagement?

Career opportunities have been the number one factor globally, and in the Middle East, for the past five years. The message is clear from all employees, yet few organisations in the region have a sense of urgency around creating career development plans (CDPs) that cater to different employee groups and across silos. There is only 52% satisfaction with career opportunities.

Second, are businesses in the Middle East keeping the promises they made to their employees before they joined? With a 55% satisfaction score in this area, it suggests that almost half of employees don’t think so. Developing an EVP that is aligned to the organisation, while complementing it with a strong orientation programme, is a component that is missing.

Third, pay is no longer a 'hygiene factor' in the Middle East. It is now a crucial retention tool. This increase in importance is mainly due to millennials gearing up to establish their personal lives.

Finally, organisations are now implementing recognition programmes that are both monetary and non-monetary. However, employees would like to see greater fairness and transparency in these, in order to understand more clearly what is required from them.

How important is effective leadership in this?

Effective leadership is critical to carving out a compelling vision for employees, and importantly, makes them feel valued. Top leaders have the ability to showcase good business decision making to their employees, commitment to talent investment and HR practices, and drive higher employee engagement.

High-performing companies show clear accountability for strategic goals, with employees aware of how they can contribute to business success and be supported in doing so.

How can organisations enhance their employer brand internally?

Identify and define an employer brand (i.e. how you wish to distinguish employment experience for your workforce). The talent processes have to be tailored to bring out nuances of employer brand in employees’ life-cycle. Regular communication and measurement is important for continued delivery and improvement of your employer brand.

Take part in Best Employers 2017

Study participants receive data, insights and best practices to advance in their journey to becoming a Best Employer. To register, contact