HU­MAN CAP­I­TAL THE NEW OR­DER

TRAIN­ING, DEVEL­OP­MENT AND IN­NO­VA­TION ARE NOT THE ONLY KEY WORDS IN HU­MAN RE­SOURCES. UN­DER­STAND­ING CUL­TURE IS AN­OTHER IM­POR­TANT FACET, ES­PE­CIALLY IN QATAR.

Qatar Today - - FRONT PAGE - By Sindhu Nair

QATAR'S HR SEC­TOR MOVES AWAY FROM THE NORM AND PLAYS A FAR WIDER, THOUGH UNIQUE, ROLE SPE­CIFIC TO THE CUL­TURAL FAB­RIC OF THE COUN­TRY IN AN EF­FORT TO IN­TE­GRATE AND UN­DER­STAND THE DI­VERSE WORK­FORCE.

“MERE NUM­BERS CAN BE MIS­LEAD­ING, AS THEY MAY NOT POINT TO THE EX­PECTED RE­SULTS, SUCH AS EN­HANC­ING THE EMER­GENCE OF A CRIT­I­CAL MASS OF COM­PE­TENT AND COM­PET­I­TIVE LO­CAL LEAD­ERS, MAN­AGERS AND EN­TREPRENEURS. QUAL­ITY IS MUCH MORE DIF­FI­CULT TO DE­FINE AND MEA­SURE, BUT IS MUCH BET­TER ADAPTED TO THE PUR­SUIT OF SUCH GOALS.”

BRUNO LANVIN Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of Global In­dices INSEAD

Hu­man Re­sources (HR) man­age­ment is grow­ing be­yond what it was meant to be. To­day HR has be­come a “strate­gic busi­ness part­ner” with the com­pany it­self. They work closely with the top ex­ec­u­tive de­part­ments to help the com­pany reach bot­tom-line re­sults. This is ac­com­plished by tar­geted re­cruit­ing, fo­cus­ing on re­ten­tion and de­vel­op­ing em­ployee tal­ents and skills.

In Qatar, HR took a longer time to de­velop and be ac­knowl­edged as an im­por­tant pil­lar in the suc­cess of or­gan­i­sa­tions. But the time taken does in no way re­flect the val­ues some com­pa­nies are keep­ing to or aim to fol­low while there still are oth­ers that do not keep to any stan­dards.

From ges­tures like Sheroes, an event or­gan­ised by Oore­doo Qatar to com­mem­o­rate the real women he­roes in life and at their or­gan­i­sa­tion, to Voda­fone be­com­ing one of the first or­gan­i­sa­tions in the world to in­tro­duce a manda­tory min­i­mum global ma­ter­nity pol­icy, and the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary cul­tural guide­lines for workspaces that will soon be launched by Com­mer­cial Bank of Qatar to make it eas­ier to work across cul­tural bar­ri­ers, Qatar's cor­po­rates have moved be­yond the norm to take an ac­tive in­ter­est in hu­man cap­i­tal devel­op­ment.

The Tal­ent In­dex

But the big ques­tion that seemed to worry most cor­po­rates is the short­age of skilled tal­ent – the right per­son for the right job.

INSEAD, an in­ter­na­tional busi­ness school, re­leased the 2014 edi­tion of its an­nual Global Tal­ent Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex (GTCI) that mea­sures a na­tion's com­pet­i­tive­ness based on the qual­ity of tal­ent it can pro­duce, at­tract and re­tain.

The in­dex ranked Qatar 25th glob­ally and sec­ond in the Mid­dle East, be­hind the United Arab Emi­rates (22nd) and ahead of Saudi Ara­bia (32nd).

“Th­ese three coun­tries com­bine a high de­gree of ex­ter­nal open­ness (UAE ranked 3rd in the world, Qatar 4th and KSA 9th) with a high level of per­for­mance on tal­ent and busi­ness en­ablers,” un­der­lined Bruno Lanvin, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of Global In­dices at INSEAD, and co-au­thor of the re­port, not­ing that,

“All three coun­tries share the same ap­proach by which their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments have given pri­or­ity to mak­ing life eas­ier for busi­ness and more at­trac­tive for ex­ter­nal tal­ents. This is prov­ing a suc­cess­ful com­bi­na­tion.”

Qatar (ranked 34th in 2013) sits par­tic­u­larly high on the ‘At­tract' pil­lar, re­flect­ing the gov­ern­ment's ef­forts to di­ver­si­fy­ing its re­source-based econ­omy.

As part of its clear drive to­wards be­com­ing a knowl­edge econ­omy, the gov­ern­ment has taken steps to at­tract for­eign tal­ent and ex­per­tise. This is ev­i­denced by the coun­try's per­for­mance in ar­eas of Ex­ter­nal Open­ness (4th) with top ranks

on For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment (FDI) and Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer (4th). Qatar is heav­ily biased to­wards the In­put sub-in­dex (20th).

Chal­lenges dif­fer

Sahiba Singh, Head of Lead­er­ship Con­sult­ing, Aon He­witt Mid­dle East, feels the chal­lenges in the re­gion are dif­fer­ent as, un­like other coun­tries, the de­pen­dence on out­side work­force is greater in Qatar and other Mid­dle East coun­tries. In gen­eral, where gov­ern­ment poli­cies sup­port a more flex­i­ble ap­proach to tal­ent im­mi­gra­tion, em­ploy­ment prac­tices and the pro­vi­sion of so­cial wel­fare, the coun­tries are able to bet­ter at­tract and re­tain a tal­ent sup­ply crit­i­cal to busi­nesses, she says echo­ing Lanvin's ob­ser­va­tions.

Cur­rently no metropoli­tan from the Mid­dle East fea­tures in the top ten cities with low­est risk on Aon He­witt's an­nual Peo­ple Risk In­dex that is based on indepth re­search aug­mented by the as­sess­ment of Aon He­witt's lo­cal and re­gional hu­man re­sources ex­perts from around the world. The 138 cities se­lected were based on pop­u­la­tion size, rate of pop­u­la­tion growth, level of busi­ness in­vest­ment and geo­graphic spread.

From APAC, only Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong make the cut. How­ever, four cities (Tripoli, Libya; Bagh­dad, Iraq; Sana'a, Ye­men; and Da­m­as­cus, Syria) from the re­gion fea­ture in the top 10 high-risk cities. Qatar is placed 31st in the over­all rank­ing fall­ing be­tween two cities in the US.

Singh touches on as­pects that are most im­por­tant for the Mid­dle East coun­tries to fea­ture high on this in­dex.

“Lead­er­ship pipe­line build up, suc­ces­sion plan­ning and im­prov­ing tal­ent at­trac­tion and re­ten­tion are some of the as­pects that should fea­ture high on the agenda of the re­gional HR lead­ers,” says Singh. “With most first-gen­er­a­tion em­ploy­ees in Mid­dle Eastern or­gan­i­sa­tions re­tired or close to re­tire­ment, the ne­ces­sity to im­me­di­ately fill up the gaps at top and mid­dle man­age­ment lev­els is be­ing viewed as crit­i­cal to busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity.”

She adds that or­gan­i­sa­tions are look­ing at both proac­tively build­ing a lead­er­ship pipe­line (fu­ture-ori­ented view) as well as plan­ning for known suc­ces­sions. “High mo­bil­ity amongst both the na­tional and

“LEAD­ER­SHIP PIPE­LINE BUILD UP, SUC­CES­SION PLAN­NING AND IM­PROV­ING TAL­ENT AT­TRAC­TION AND RE­TEN­TION ARE SOME OF THE AS­PECTS THAT FEA­TURE HIGH ON THE AGENDA OF THE RE­GIONAL HR LEAD­ERS.”

SAHIBA SINGH Head of Lead­er­ship Con­sult­ing Aon He­witt Mid­dle East

ex­pa­tri­ate work­force fur­ther aug­ments the need to con­tin­u­ously at­tract and re­tain tal­ent to fuel busi­ness growth,” says Singh.

Is there a tal­ent crunch?

Ac­cord­ing to INSEAD, a coun­try's in­ter­est in at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent (lo­cally or ex­ter­nally grown) gen­er­ally cor­re­sponds to a long-term vi­sion by which the coun­try aims at see­ing tal­ent stay and con­trib­ute to cre­at­ing value and jobs lo­cally.

“Whether it is about at­tract­ing or re­tain­ing tal­ent, coun­tries have a set of po­ten­tial tools in their hands, which will be more or less crit­i­cally im­por­tant depend­ing whether the tar­gets of their ef­forts are in­di­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies,” says Lanvin. “To at­tract and re­tain in­di­vid­ual tal­ent, eco­nomic in­stru­ments (level of com­pen­sa­tion, tax in­cen­tives) re­main im­por­tant, but other – more qual­i­ta­tive – el­e­ments mat­ter more and more, which re­late to qual­ity of life (se­cu­rity, cul­tural ac­tiv­ity, pres­ence of other tal­ents). Since a large pro­por­tion of the tal­ent that can be at­tracted and re­tained are em­ploy­ees of for­eign com­pa­nies, crit­i­cal tools to be con­sid­ered re­late to the ease of do­ing busi­ness, in­vest­ment cli­mate and fis­cal re-

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