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There’s no doubt about it: today’s employees are harder to retain, and the majority of professionals in the Middle East seem to agree on this point as well. In fact, 60.2% of those who took part in Bayt.com’s Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace poll (February 2013) said that, compared to previous generations, employee retention now is lower. Employee turnover is a hot topic in today’s workplace and HR circles, and leading organizations recognize the importance of actively measuring, monitoring, and maximizing the level of loyalty and engagement amongst their employees and ensuring it is not left to chance.
The Bayt.com Workplace Dynamics in the MENA Region June 2013 poll points out several trends among professionals in MENA with regards to their job search, top industries and HR trends, why professionals would leave their job, and what they most desire from an ideal job and manager. Challenge is obviously important, as 17.5% saw no clear advancement path in the organization which prompted them to leave their job. In their next job, the majority of professionals (20.3%) are looking for companies that will help them develop their skills and provide learning opportunities and training programs. Eight out of every 10 respondents (81.6%) have an online CV and professional public profile, and 96.6% are always open to new career opportunities. According to this poll, the industries that are seen to attract the most talent are oil, gas and petrochemicals (30.2%), followed by information technology (IT) and telecommunications (24.1%).
The poll, Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace found that most professionals in the region claim that the average amount of time they have spent in a job is no more than five years: 27.7% have stayed between two to five years, 20.5% have stayed for no more than two years, while 22.2% have stayed for an average of less than one year in a given job. While a whopping 54.7% state that they want to leave their job immediately, only 16.4% intend to stay in their current job until retirement. 36.8% of respondents hope for career longevity and would never want to retire, as per the Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace poll. Interestingly, the departments with the highest turnover in the MENA region are Sales and Marketing (43.9%). IT comes second on the list at 14.3%.
Providing a more competitive salary is considered the most important factor in employee retention by 26.6% of respondents, followed by performance recognition (17.7%) and good manager-employee relationships (17.6%). Nine out of 10 (86.1%) also state that having higher levels of job security will improve retention rates. The Bayt.com Employee Motivation in the MENA survey (January 2013) data indicates that 47% of professionals in the MENA consider recognition of one’s work the key element that drives motivation, closely followed by training and development (45%) and career advancement opportunities (42%). Training is very, very important. In fact, the aforementioned Workplace Dynamics in the MENA poll shows that the majority of professionals (20.3%) are looking for companies that will help them develop their skills and provide learning opportunities and training programs. Surprisingly, only 19% look for a good work environment.
In light of these numbers, employers in the MENA should recognize the importance of fostering an environment of growth and learning to bring out the best in their employees. Companies can develop in-house training departments, ally themselves with special training houses and universities, send employees to relevant external training programs, offer internal rotational programs and overseas assignments as a key career development opportunity, and commit to their employees learning and development in a multitude of other creative and meaningful ways.
Besides the company’s training activities, career plans and professional development opportunities should be routinely discussed and formalized. Employees that feel the company has invested in them in this manner are far more likely to remain loyal to their company. The November 2012 Work Satisfaction in the MENA poll demonstrates that management style also plays a significant role in employee levels of satisfaction: 27.6% feel that management in their company is unprofessional, 36% confirm that communication channels are open but not enough, and 39.2% don’t feel there are enough opportunities for advancement and promotion at their company.
Conducted in February 2014, What Makes a Company an Attractive Place to Work?, a poll by Bayt.com reveals that half of the poll’s respondents would rather work at a company where they feel the work they do is part of a greater purpose, with 22.6% wanting to believe in the company’s mission, vision and/or values. According to the results, a company that provides opportunities for professionals to do their best while leading them on a successful career path is most appealing to 19.7% of polled professionals; companies that provide training and development opportunities, and also companies that encourage new ideas and innovations appeal most to one out of 10 respondents, respectively. For seven out of 10 respondents (65.6%), all of the aforementioned criteria are equally important.
Basically four elements are the ticket to staff retention and happiness: Open communication channels, a clear career path, good training opportunities, and a competitive pay are absolutely vital for smooth sailing in a business. These are the pillars of employee loyalty in your company. Listening to employees’ opinions and feedback is a surefire way to communicate your appreciation and respect. Learn from them what they hope to contribute to the business, how they see the business moving and improving, and where they see themselves down the line. Having the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas and the authority to take decisions that relate directly to their roles are great boosters for both self-esteem and job loyalty.