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You don’t need us to tell you how complicated the business landscape has become. A perfect storm of challenges is impacting how companies operate and manage their people – from inflation and the ongoing war for talent to the ‘quiet quitting’ trend that has recently gained momentum in the Gulf region.

A combination of demographic and societal shifts are forcing businesses to rethink how they support and engage their employees. Those that don’t will face an uphill battle to attract and retain the best people.

The key is to look internally. By focusing on the factors along the employee journey that you can influence and control, your business will be much better placed to thrive and grow. Here are the stages that matter most.

Stage 1: Employee management & payroll

This covers everything from managing employee profiles, payroll and expenses to handling leave requests and expense submissions. Make these activities as streamlined as possible so that employees can self-serve and easily complete admin tasks on the fly.

Providing a central app or platform for employees to request leave, access insurance policies, track reimbursements and manage payslips can completely transform the work life experience. This will ensure transparency, make their lives significantly easier, and empower them to spend more time focusing on the job at hand. What’s more, automation can enhance processes such as payroll, making it more likely that employees get paid accurately and on time. 

And the power of technology extends wider than just admin. The vast majority (93%) of employees cite up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of a modern workplace. Give employees the right tools, and you’ll be rewarded with a happier, more engaged workforce.

Stage 2: Development & assessment

Developing talent has always been key to any successful business. Employees that receive personalized performance management and progression paths will feel valued. Similarly, continuous learning and coaching will empower employees to fulfill their career goals and contribute to long-term business growth.

Digital performance management solutions have been proven to accelerate employee growth and enhance engagement. Digital monitoring is objective, precise, accurate and timely – and therefore of great value to both employer and employee. However, 72% of UAE businesses either do not have a formal performance management process in place or have yet to digitize it.

Seize the opportunity to digitize development and training through platforms that provide one central location to make notes on employee performance, collate feedback from peers, and even score employees on specific skills. This will also enable HR teams, line managers, and employees to easily keep track of progress – thereby ensuring full accuracy, transparency and accountability.

Finally, establishing goals and objectives through which employees can see their role in the organization’s mission and strategy will improve engagement among today’s Millennial and Gen Z workforce.

Stage 3: Compensation & benefits

Today’s generation of employees value so much more than just salary. They want access to rewards that go beyond the professional into the personal. For example, 56% of UAE employees say there needs to be a greater emphasis on wellness and work-life balance.

With a recent study finding that UAE workers are among the most stressed in the world, employee wellbeing must be at the forefront of any company’s employee experience strategy. Investing in the mental health of your workers – which has been proven to reduce burnout and absenteeism while boosting productivity and employee retention – is crucial.  

According to one study of 1,000 employees in 10 countries, 33% now want their employer to prioritize health over lifestyle benefits and 21% want greater access to wellness support. In the UAE specifically, 71% of HR professionals say COVID-19 increased employee expectations around health and wellness benefits. 

Businesses must respond to this by helping their teams get active and providing exclusive access to offers from local retailers, gym discounts, or special health insurance rates. Also consider adding mental health support, or access to online doctors. The goal should be to provide employees with a holistic work-life experience that they can be proud of and that meets all of their needs.

This is what will enable your business to become truly employee-centric. And all it requires is a change of mindset. By focusing on the areas that you can control and taking a digital-first approach, you’ll be able to tackle any challenge that comes your way over the next 12 months. Download our latest ebook – “Shaping your 2023 Trends” – for actionable advice you can take to prepare yourself for 2023.

Louise Harty