In the com­pe­ti­tion to at­tract and re­tain Qatari tal­ent, it has be­come clear that gen­er­ous pay and al­lowances are only a start­ing point.

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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

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