Managing Staff Aspirations: Three Ways To Drive The Growth Of Both Your Human Capital And Your Company

Tactics a company can take to pursue both the goals of the business and its employees.

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By Suhail Al-Masri


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People often mix up aspirations with goals. Aspirations help define your goals, but the two are not the exact same thing. What do you need to live a life of purpose? What do you want from your job? Aspirations are different from individual to individual. Some people need the status and responsibility of a traditional career path. Others want financial security above all else. Some want more flexibility at work, etc. Aspirations differ, but the question remains the same: How can a company successfully manage the aspirations of its employees in a way that would drive the growth of both the employer and the employee?

If your aspirations for 2015 are aimed at some level of career advancement, you're not alone. The January 2015 Career Aspirations in the MENA survey has revealed that around seven in 10 respondents in the MENA region have set professional goals for themselves, with 26% having long-term goals to achieve in the next five years. The top career goal of 54% of MENA professionals is to get a higher salary in the next 12 months. Other job-related resolutions included getting a new job (53%) and learning new skills (52%). In terms of personal goals for 2015, 72% of professionals in the region want to save more money.

Other goals included traveling (37%), buying property (33%), and spending more time with family (30%). Respondents in the MENA were very positive about what 2015 has to bring, with four in five respondents (82%) reporting an overall positive feeling towards the current year. Slightly more respondents in the GCC region (84%) were positive about 2015, compared to North Africa (77%) and Levant (72%). Financial issues emerged as the top worry for 51% of respondents. This was followed by career path uncertainty (33%), worry about unemployment or losing their job (31%), and problems they face at work (29%). As for the biggest barriers to professional growth in the region, respondents in the same survey considered these to be poor management within the company (46%), the lack of growth opportunities (45%), and favoritism in the workplace (27%). Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa Survey - January 2015


Professionals in the MENA have many reasons for seeking employment and not all of them revolve around money. The Career Aspirations survey also indicated that the top reason for finding a job in the MENA is to consistently learn and gain experience (72%). Making money came second at 58%, followed by being financially independent and feeling useful to the society (both at 44%). And yet in the MENA, 24% of people claim to be able to save less than 10% of their income and a significant 31% of respondents are not able to save anything. Overall, 58% of professionals in the MENA are motivated at work, though 73% would be happy to relocate to another country for employment purposes.

The UAE is the most popular destination for 28% of MENA professionals. Only four in 10 (42%) said they would rather be an employee than an entrepreneur, while 43% considers the ideal retirement age to be after 60. On a positive note, more than half of all respondents (57%) are satisfied with their professional growth over the past year, although 64% feel they deserve to work in a higher level position. Three in five respondents report having a mentor or role model in their careers. What did the respondents choose as the most preferred industries to work in the MENA? Oil, gas and petrochemicals (12%), and construction, with construction not surprisingly being a very popular industry in Qatar (15%) and Saudi Arabia (12%).

In light of the above, we can confidently say that the employee management landscape in the MENA region has changed drastically over the past few decades. Nowadays, companies need to focus on managing the career aspirations of a more diverse and informed workforce. Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa Survey - January 2015

The concept of aspiration management draws heavily from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It lists self-actualization as the highest need individuals aspire to realize in their life. Self-actualization simply means being the best you can be at what you do. From the company's point of view, skill shortages can pose a genuine problem. In fact, 61% of respondents in the January 2015 Skills and Hiring Trends in the MENA poll say that their company suffers from a lack of skills. Managing employee aspirations effectively can thus be a key driver of growth for both employees and the company.

Knowing employees aspirations is the first step towards successful aspiration management. These aspirations may be related to where they are headed in their professional life, such as wanting a promotion or a salary increase, or personal goals, such as how they plan to maintain their work-life balance. Once they know what they want to achieve in life, you can help them convert these aspirations into more specific, measurable and time-bound goals. Data from the Career Aspirations in the MENA survey shows that while 68% of professionals in the MENA say they have set professional goals for themselves, 22% have not set any goals. The latter are specifically the ones who will need your help in defining short- and long- term goals.

Once the aspirations have been defined and quantified, all that is left is finding ways to achieve them. For aspiration management to be effective, employees' goals need to be aligned with organizational goals. Providing the necessary training is the key to achieving this alignment of goals. Across the MENA, 45% of professionals cite the lack of training and growth opportunities as the main barrier to their personal career growth. Fortunately, investment in training is projected to increase in 2015 according to 73% of respondents in the Skills and Hiring Trends in the MENA poll. Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa Survey - January 2015
Suhail Al-Masri

VP of Sales,

Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Employer Solutions at Al-Masri has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at goes in line with the company's mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.

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