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'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).
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-