QATARISATION – ARE YOU INVESTING WISELY?
In the competition to attract and retain Qatari talent, it has become clear that generous pay and allowances are only a starting point.
In the competition to attract and retain Qatari talent, it has become clear that generous pay and allowances are only a starting point to attract local nationals.
Many organisations make costly and unfruitful investments in a bid to increase their Qatari workforce, engaging in a war for talent without a strategic and systematic approach. Some of the main pitfalls that we observe are: Adopting a 20% or higher Qatarisation target without reference to the labour market and without a good definition of the organisation's workforce requirements Offering very high pay to local national candidates in order to attract them, but then failing to follow up with development and support when they join Recruiting without giving due consideration to attitude and aptitude Failing to prepare managers to deal effectively with a more diverse workforce Understandably, the disappointment of waving goodbye to their local national employees in spite of their efforts has left many organisations wondering whether it is an investment worth making. So what can they do to invest effectively in this special market for talent?
At Aon Hewitt, we have been working with organisations around the region to tailor effective strategies for increasing their local workforce. Throughout the last five years, we also solicited the views of over 20,000 employees in the GCC, via our Qudurat study, with an objective to understand the region's human capital development. Here is what we have learned so far:
Before starting recruitment, set the right targets
Qatarisation targets need to be fine-tuned to reflect the availability of candidates with the necessary skills, both in the external labour market and within the organisation. In the course of setting such targets, employers should align organisational roles to the pool of potential candidates.
There are two key actions to take before plunging into recruitment campaigns: first is to think carefully about the skills that the organisation needs and the key positions to be held by local nationals. Second is to conduct a labour market review to determine the availability of these skills, both internally and externally, and to decide which roles will be filled through external recruitment and those to be filled through internal promotions. Thus, a realistic Qatarisation target can be set, supported by a roadmap that specifies progress over time.
Assess and develop the employer brand
With so many organisations seeking capable local nationals, employers are at a huge disadvantage in even getting a candidate to consider joining if their brand does not offer a unique proposition to the discerning jobseeker.
The first step involved in building the employer brand is to understand their organisation's current reputation in the talent market. Current employees can provide a reasonable reflection of the brand; however, outsiders from the target group (i.e. local market) are likely to be the best informants and we recommend investing time and effort to get their robust feedback.
Be aware that for those who want to stay ahead of the game, crafting a credible and attractive employer brand is not a oneoff activity. The needs of the employees and the organisation's reputation in the market shift and develop, and so need to be monitored and refined to remain relevant and attractive.
Use the right channels to attract local nationals
There is a dizzying array of channels to use for recruitment campaigns, but many organisations have never stopped to evaluate their effectiveness. Failing to optimise the available recruitment channels means that the organisation may never reach the right potential candidates, let alone attract them to join. Once an organisation has a clear understanding of its target candidates, the channels to use to reach them can be determined.
Preventing unnecessary attrition also starts at the recruitment stage. In their eagerness to get local nationals onboard, organisations may be overlooking the importance of the fit between the candidate and the organisation. They may focus too much on the candidates' qualifications and experience, and miss out on those who have the right attitude and aptitude and can be trained to perform a good job.
Create a welcoming environment that supports achievement
Once the employment contract is signed, the focus shifts to ensuring that a new employee performs well and is satisfied enough in the organisation to stay for a good while. This is the most difficult aspect for employers to get right, as it depends on creating an environment, not just managing a process, for engaging all the organisation's employees. One area of concern is the extent of support that managers provide to their employees.
Providing support to employees goes beyond conventional learning and development programs. Effective organisations put in place more extensive coaching and mentoring schemes to drive performance, provide career growth and increase retention. Decision-making and communication processes are geared to nurturing confidence in leadership. They are also proactive in building a work environment that supports workforce diversity.
There are no quick solutions to the challenge of Qatarisation. If the organisation is serious about wise investments to attract and retain Qatari nationals, it should be prepared for a longterm commitment. Leadership needs to be fully committed to the journey, and the organisation needs a systematic and targeted approach to address all aspects of the employment lifecycle to make it work for all employees
BY DR. MARKUS WIESNER CEO, Aon Hewitt Middle East and Africa