HR TechnologyTalent Acquisition

MEA Roundup

Recent HR and talent trends impacting the region.

By Zee Johnson

In the Market: What’s Driving UAE Talent

Organisations in the UAE must pay close attention to what candidates are saying if they want to attract the best of the best.

Bayt.com’s recent Attraction and Retention of Talent in Mena Survey sought to find the main drivers for candidates in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region and how companies are working to attract and retain them.

When in the market for a new job opportunity, the survey found that salary/compensation (62%), workplace environment (58%), and long-term job security (46%) were the biggest factor for candidates, followed by additional benefit offerings (43%) and company reputation (42%).

And when it came to the business values that make employers most attractive, good ethics and practices (69%), friendly company culture (60%), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) were most cited, along with green consciousness/efforts (42%).

On-the-job attributes were also important to respondents. In fact, nearly two-thirds report career development opportunities attract them to a company, closely trailed by training and support (63%) and the quality of work in the company (59%).

This is one of the reasons why 66% of respondents are likely to apply in their current organisation and for their current role if they had to do it all over again, since this group had access to upskilling and reskilling opportunities. And those who said they wouldn’t choose their current organisation or role again (16%) stated the lack of growth opportunity as why.

As far as what companies are doing to encourage strong acquisition, many have increased their marketing efforts. The study found that social media is the biggest medium organisations are utilizing to attract key talent (35%), along with online company pages that target job seekers (21%) and email campaigns (13%).

But some regions are more focused than others. The top five countries that the report found making the most effort in attracting new talent include:

•UAE (41%);
•Qatar (38%);
•Lebanon (34%);
•Oman (31%); and
•Algeria (30%).

On the flip side, the five countries that were listed as utilizing very little effort include:

•Iraq (24%);
•Kuwait (23%);
•Qatar (23%);
•Jordan (21%); and
•Tunisia (21%).

Ghana’s Troubled Economy

With much anguish present, the West African country is remaining hopeful that it can get ahead of its massive debt.

Ghana is having a hard time getting out of the hole, as inflation and debt wreak havoc on its economy.

In November of last year, the country’s inflation rate had risen to 50.3%, year-over-year, just after securing a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion support package over a three-year period. The package also comes as aid after the country defaulted on most of its external debt last year.

And the economy’s growth has slowed up drastically, thanks to COVID-19 aftermath and Russia’s war on Ukraine. Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said during his budget presentation in November that growth is expected to slow to 2.8% in 2023.

And in an address to the country, its president Nana Akufo-Addo attributed the economic downturn to worldly events. “I cannot find an example in history when so many malevolent forces have come together at the same time,” he said.

The president also said that the government aimed to restore macroeconomic stability within the next three to six years and to cut the debt-to-GDP ratio to 55% by 2028. “I believe we can and we will find the means to achieve these goals, even if the immediate measures we have to take are painful,” he said.

Technology is Helping Close the Skills Gaps in the Middle East

IT leaders are looking to technology to help their companies advance, with or without employees.

As acquisition and retention issues mount, organisations across the globe are looking for ways to fill gaps. Now, many are turning to technology to take the place of employees.

Rackspace Technology’s Managing IT in Challenging Economic Times report found that business leaders are shifting their focus to digital transformation and technology investments in an effort to alleviate the stress of reduced talent, yet continued growth.

Fifty-four per cent of surveyed companies say they are having trouble filling roles, some of which include cybersecurity specialist (61%), machine learning engineer (54%), and data analyst (49%), to name a few.

Now, Middle East companies are investing 1.5 times more money into roles performed by technology than those performed by people and 49% are downsizing their staff, due to both technology and necessity.

Forty-six per cent of leaders say they are challenged by what comes with an economic slowdown, including inflation (44%), and energy prices (42%), which is why 62% of IT leaders are increasing their focus on cloud projects that can increase efficiency to get through these times.

In the Middle East particularly, 58% have increased their IT investment because of the economy and skills gap and 77% say they are finding ways for technology to do jobs formerly performed by people.

George Pawlyszyn, general manager, Middle East and Africa (MEA) at Rackspace Technology said in an interview with Zawya, that the recent mass adoption of technology is good for any orgnanisation looking to boost their efficiency. “Not only can technology offset the reduced workforce available, but it is a well-established way of driving business efficiencies as well – though only if used effectively,” he says. He adds that Middle Eastern organisations are looking to implement these advancements sooner rather than later and must use them to their full potential. “Three-quarters (72%) of the Middle East organisations also said cloud operations would be a key investment area over the next 12-18 months and while they have correctly identified an important tool in improving their operations, they will need to optimise these investments and strategies to feel the true benefit.”

And leaders are feeling confident about their return on investment (ROI), as they now allocate more funds to technology (61%). Because of this, senior leadership and board of directors are becoming more involved with investment decisions (50%), as both see the increasing value of technology investment and digital transformation as a corporate priority across industry verticals.

While tech investment and implementation continue to rise, Pawlyszyn says ultimately, having able-bodied workers present is equally as important. “It should also be noted that technology itself is very different to technical-proficient staff,” he says. “A tough labour market and therefore necessity might be driving the growing role tech is playing within companies but finding and retaining capable staff will remain crucial for businesses to thrive. Media activity leaves tell-tale trails of information through snippets of code called pixels, that can be gathered to produce deep insights.” Pixels, says Jacobs, make it possible to track posts and conversation content using more than 40 million attributes.

“It can tell you what employees think of a company, colleagues, and managers, the products or services being sold, what staff want from their job, from their careers, their job highlights and frustrations, and what they expect in the future,” he says. “It can tell all of these things and more, including whether they want to move on to somewhere else, change roles, obtain a promotion, receive more training, and what lies behind their motivations.”

Getting data-led decision-making right means getting the data right first. Before HR puts in the work required to know what questions to ask, it first needs to put in the time to get its data in order. Data needs to be cleaned, processed, and stored appropriately if the analysis is to produce any meaningful results. “It’s worth focusing on creating an intelligent, integrated ecosystem that can access and enrich the data coming from different sources,” says Burns.

She explains the right data means creating a single source of truth for an organisation’s skill ‘health,’ but the same source of truth can be secured for other areas of HR, corresponding with the data under scrutiny. Certainly, realising this requires some up-front work to collect and prepare the data, but at the end of the day, businesses will be set to reap the benefits as they can make incisive and confident decisions about the way they manage their people.

Tags: EMEA January/February 2023, HR Technology, MEA, Talent Acquisition, trends

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