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No employee left behind, UAE organisations vow

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai
rohma@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 24, 2021
A key challenge for many companies was the retention of staff during the lockdown period last year. Photo by M. Sajjad

Several organisations across the UAE accelerated their plans to go fully digital to improve on safety and security for both employees and customers during the lockdowns

Looking back on how the Covid-19 lockdowns nearly ground business activity to a halt, organisations across the UAE reflected on the actions that they had taken in an effort to overcome challenges, especially those revolving around employee health and security.

Many companies highlighted how their main priority during the ‘new normal’ was to retain their staff, which resulted in several innovative and sometimes radical changes.

“With the start of the pandemic, came the fear of the unknown,” said Victor Kiriakos-Saad, general manager of Careem UAE. “When the Covid-19 reality hit, it was hard at first to determine what it is, that is needed. At the same time, we feared for the safety of our customers, Captains and colleagues.”

Pre-Covid-19, Careem’s business was anchored in the ride-hailing industry, and its job was to move people across the region. With the lockdowns in place, that job became impossible. The company announced its intention to completely transform its business model, keeping the safety of its employees and customers at the heart of this transformation. It did this by accelerating the launch of the Careem Super App.

“We transformed from being a ride-hailing app to creating an ecosystem that hosts a range of services on our Super App platform,” said Victor Kiriakos-Saad. “We doubled-down on deliveries, making it possible for customers to get what they needed at home and making it possible for our Captains to keep earning. We launched the Super App with multiple use cases, constantly responding to new demands across food, groceries or buy and send items. People use Careem to send gifts to loved ones they can’t see during this time. A lot of our Captains delivered laptops and paperwork from offices to the homes of employees. The use cases were endless.”

Careem also announced its decision to get rid of the commission model for its food partners in order to create a more sustainable system. The company also decided to open up the app to third parties, like Justmop, based on feedback from customers.

Another company that set a strong example with its actions in protecting the welfare of its employees was Majid Al Futtaim, which activated an employee redeployment programme across the region. The redeployment programme was designed to provide employees, especially those in the company’s leisure, entertainment and cinema segments, with an opportunity to retrain within the Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem. The initial phase saw over 1,015 employees from Vox Cinemas, Magic Planet, Little Explorers, and Ski Dubai assigned to their new roles in Majid Al Futtaim’s Carrefour business on a temporary basis to assist with online order fulfilment, food packing, and stock replenishment.

“In times of uncertainty, our commitment to our community of customers, employees, tenants and suppliers only becomes stronger,” said Alain Bejjani, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim – Holding. “I am extremely proud of each one of them as they have shown a relentless desire to support their colleagues across the company and ensure our customers continue to have access to essential items.”

rohma@khaleejtimes.com

author

Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.





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