Guide to an effective employee engagement in the UAE

By Dr. Susan Zeidan

Published: Sun 10 May 2020, 10:30 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 May 2020, 1:20 PM

Employee engagement was rapidly increasing in significance and grabbing the attention of managers and researchers worldwide as it was seen as one of the most crucial indicators in estimating work satisfaction. 
A research study that collected information from organizations with more than 500 employees found that 71 per cent of managers deemed employee engagement as one of the most significant factors shaping a corporation's overall success.
Another study of more than 1,200 senior directors and executives of global and multinational organisations, of which 10 per cent of the respondents came from the Middle East, argued that main challenges confronted by managers and leaders were employee engagement and effective strategy execution.
So, why should organisations in the UAE foster a culture of high engagement? Take a minute to think of how engaged you truly are at your work and then take a look around your workplace, you see all your colleagues that are physically there, now think again of how many are really there? Many have heard the joke about the Chief Executive Officer's reply when he was asked about how many employees were employees at his company. His answer was, "Oh, about half of them." 
Jack Welch, a former CEO of GE and Business Consultant argues, "There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization's overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. . . . It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it."
He also reasons, "The company that unlocks the secrets of employee engagement is promised profits beyond its wildest dreams." In agreement, a study conducted by HayGroup in 2019 observed that employees with higher levels of engagement brought in 2.5x more revenue to their organizations than had non-engaged or less engaged employees.
While organisations in the UAE were becoming aware of the importance of employee engagement, what was really surprising was that the level of employee engagement in the UAE was decreasing. According a Gallup report, while employee engagement in the UAE was a little higher than the global level, the percentage of engaged employees declined by 10 per cent from 2013 to 2016, whereas the MENA region saw a positive increase by 4 per cent, the USA saw a positive increase (3 per cent) and globally the increase was 2 per cent. The percentage of disengaged employees in the UAE also increased by 2 per cent, whereas other regions noted a decline; MENA (13 per cent), USA (2 per cent), and globally (6 per cent).
Several models of employee engagement were presented by researchers to identify different drivers of engagement. 
However, most researchers agree on the following strategies/approaches to increase employee engagement:
-Rather than only focusing on using an annual satisfaction survey as an engagement tool, substitute these surveys by employee listening tools that include anonymous social tools and regular feedbacks from line managers as followed globally.
-A range of factors affecting engagement starting from pay, working hours and working conditions and ending with meaning
-Long-term career prospects and excitement rather than easy income.
-Global Engagement Solutions identified 10 metrics to foster higher engagement levels and these included: growth, feedback, recognition, job fit and compensation, recognition, relationship to peers and relationship to manager.
-Treating employees like customers.
-Providing workplace wellness programs, and focusing on employee experience.
-Ensuring fairness and transparency because these had a major influence on employees' job satisfaction and commitment levels and ultimately engagement levels.
-Employee engagement should be considered as part of the organisation's DNA and should be addressed as a continuous approach and modified and tailored for every organisation.
Greg Harris, President and CEO of Quantum Workplace, affirmed, "Engaging the hearts, minds, and hands of talent is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage." So, organizations need to engage or be doomed!
(Dr. Susan Zeidan is an Associate Professor at Amity University Dubai. The views expressed are her own and don't reflect newspaper's policy)

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