Going beyond quotas in the Middle East

Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
18 Sep 2014

18 Sep 2014 • by Changeboard Team

The threat of losing national workers

Our research suggests UAE nationals are less willing to recommend their organization as a good place to work. They’re also less likely to put in discretionary effort.

This goes some way to illustrate just how private sector organizations in the UAE are failing to truly engage with their local staff and are at risk of losing talented nationals.

Frustrations in the workplace

To really understand employee engagement, we need to uncover what’s happening with employee enablement. This refers to the extent to which employees are working in the right jobs for their skills, abilities and interests, within an optimal environment free from barriers.

Our data shows that UAE nationals feel less enabled in their workplace than expats do. They tend to believe that the job they doesn’t match their skills and abilities, and that it’s less interesting and challenging than they would like.

Also, they have a sense that conditions at work create barriers that prevent them from achieving more.

The organizations that buck the trend

Around one in six organizations included in the study displays a different pattern and shows that it is possible to get Emiratization right within private industry. In these organizations, nationals are thriving and feel more positive about their work climate, engagement and the degree to which they are enabled.

Tellingly, the issues they were particularly positive about were clustered around broader learning and development. They reported opportunities for learning and development well above the UAE and Middle East average. These organizations also had a much greater focus on training, shown not just by the fact that they put together great training programmes, but also because they ensured staff had the time to get the most out of them.

Something that really stood out to the consultants working with these organizations is that these companies made sure Emiratization was not just ‘for Emiratis by Emiratis’ – it was a clear strategic objective for the organization and was integrated into performance management, development planning and training plans. They had an open culture, where both expats and national staff could openly discuss Emiratisation and work together towards achieving it.