HR director, Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate (AFGRE)
Our approach in AFGRE differs depending on the role and also whether it is a national hire or international talent that we are seeking. We do look at our competitors and screen for competencies – experience and technical capability is a key focus for us to ensure sustainable growth.
We start the hiring process by explaining what we do in AFGRE. The bigger picture is Al-Futtaim and we always ask a candidate what they know about the group. We share a lot about our future growth plans, since it is not just the role that they are applying for that is important, they also need to understand our various projects and plans for growth, which is a key way of demonstrating a promising career at Al-Futtaim.
Developing future talent pipelines
We continuously focus on our five-year plan and have identified key roles and successors to those positions. We know where the gaps are and, by coming up with a business needs analysis with our learning and development team, we have implemented plans to develop successors and address the gaps. Structured career development work, in line with succession planning, is very effective.
Most of the nationals we engage are young. We depend on fresh graduates and rely on their ideas and try to highlight the career growth they could enjoy in the private sector.
We use the group’s talent management programme to attract them, focusing on specialities specific to real estate. Hiring graduates with the right majors is key and we concentrate on specific development plans for them, particularly on-the-job training from line managers supplemented by courses.
Overcoming employee challenges
Many of our young nationals expect to go into senior positions after a short amount of time with perhaps not the required experience. Culturally, senior titles are important for nationals but we need to ensure that we build capability first and we do a good job of explaining this to our nationals. Managing expectations is always a challenge and we can lose nationals easily sometimes purely for a more senior title elsewhere.
This is why attracting and selecting the right candidate is critical. If you get it right from the beginning, you can avoid a lot of struggles. This sounds easier than it is but focusing on behaviour and cultural fit is often what makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful candidate. Flexibility, commitment and continuous recognition and encouragement are important.
General manager HR, Engineering, Electronics, Technology (EET)
Al-Futtaim as a brand is very well-known in the region and attracting talent is often not too difficult. People want to work for the brands that we represent. From an engineering perspective we choose our clients carefully and this adds to the reputation for goodwill that the group has. Socialising and having industry connections are important to source top talent, and references are often a very reliable guide.
We have a lot happening in EET at the moment, most of which does address our people’s growth, in line with our business growth.
Although these are mostly new initiatives, we are seeing an impact with our development plans for our more junior technical roles; we have introduced career maps and an accreditation programme. On a management level we have completed a training needs analysis, which has allowed us to identify key areas for improvement.
Growing future talent in the region
More than 70% of our workforce is in technical roles, which require very specific education and training. We need to target the right universities and institutions to get the right graduate talent who can move into these roles.
Getting national talent with some of these specific technical qualifications is not always easy. To aid this, we recently developed a group called the Emirati committee within EET, which allows us to develop ambassadors who can help us to engage our nationals.
Our group employee engagement programme also enables us to identify our opportunities to enhance engagement for this group. We also work with our HR business partners, graduate programme lead and learning and development team to make sure that we are developing our national talent for future roles.
Indicators of success
We have a group-wide talent management programme, which highlights our high-potential employees and identifies gaps in succession. This provides visibility on future issues, which enables us to address the relevant areas. Other positive trends include a lower turnover rate and a good score in the first cycle of our employee engagement programme.
I believe that HR leaders should accept that each business has different needs and get to understand those requirements well. Gain an understanding first, and then provide solutions.
HR director, Retail
We are lucky at Al-Futtaim in that we deal with world-recognised brands and we showcase those to recruits, even though they might be interviewing for a lesser-known brand in our group. Brand association is a powerful tool.
For senior roles I personally take a more exploratory approach through interviews and networking, which is a good way to identify candidates. LinkedIn is also great for meeting new talent and to stay up-to-date with current talent in the market.
In the retail division, one of our main challenges is to identify a career path that is culturally acceptable when compared with banking or government-based roles.
You have to relate to younger generations and show them the value and experience you offer and how you will address their desire to learn. A proactive approach is needed in terms of starting a dialogue with this group.
We sit at the top of companies that have progressive employee programmes including leadership, benefits and work-life balance. We are also working hard at maintaining that position through our Talent for Growth programme, which is focused on various initiatives in four key areas; attract, engage, develop and retain.
Al-Futtaim also has a corporate graduate programme called Intilaq, which we leverage in retail as well. This allows us to build a strong group of nationals with education and work experience pedigree.
In terms of succession planning, we now have a talent management programme that is conducted annually to help with identifying successors. We expect our ability to identify and place successors in a planned way to improve our year-on-year actions.
Measuring success in the future
Better year-on-year business results are a good indicator of our success, but we also measure success by having lower-than-industry average turnover and retaining our key staff.
We do this by making sure we have a competitive offering (for example: pay, benefits, corporate culture) and by ensuring that people managers are well trained in managing and leading their teams.
Don’t take it for granted that if you have strong profit and loss producers, they will also be strong managers.