Retaining Emiratis a challenge: expert

Abu Dhabi: Retaining Emiratis in the private sector remains a challenge due to a lack of career opportunities for them and the absence of a mentoring culture, a forum heard Sunday.

Dr Bob Nelson, author, motivational speaker and president of Nelson Motivation management training and consulting, told Abu Dhabi University's Emiratisation Forum that the challenges facing Emiratisation programmes included the lack of perceived career progression, and the insensitivity of management to culture differences.

Dr Nelson, who was the forum's keynote speaker, is the author of books including books including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and the 1001 Rewards and Recognition Field Book.

He said challenges facing employers in their bid to retain Emiratis included their reluctance to work long hours, unpopular shift schedules, their dislike of uniforms, their expectations of quick promotion, and lack of a performance-based culture.

A study conducted last year by government-sponsored Emirates National Development Programme revealed 60 per cent of Emiratis working in the private sector had resigned from corporate positions due to a lack of career progression and the absence of mentoring.

Abu Dhabi University chairman Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Daheri agreed.

"Retention remains to be a key issue on the minds of Emiratisation executives across the country," he said.

"It is fundamental that organisations are educated about how to secure their retention rate through the implementation of effective motivation principles and offering people meaningful work."

Al Daheri said in times of economic uncertainty, energised, innovative and cooperative employees would add true value to the business.

"By developing employees to reach their goals, offering counselling and understanding their strengths and aptitudes, business can retain talented individuals who will prove to be long-term assets to the firm.

Nearly 80 per cent of the expatriate population was "economically active", compared with 45 per cent of Emiratis, according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The Economic and Social Dimension 2009 report showed nearly 20 per cent of the UAE population of 8.19 million was voluntarily unemployed while 2.3 per cent were looking for work.

Faisal Al Kamali, head of infrastructure at Aldar properties said Emiratis comprise 20 per cent of Aldar's workforce, in executive management through to clerical positions.

Aldar runs the Leadership Applied Excellence Diploma (LEAD) programme for Emiratis.
"Central to the success of any Emiratisation programme is that it is viewed as long-term — not just quick fixes — and as such should include continuity and consistency", he said.
Originally published in Gulf News. 

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