Complex Made Simple

The secret recipe for retaining your employees

Heard the last office complaint? It’s probably about your boss!

In today’s hectic and demanding world, workplaces are often emotional roller coasters. Pressure and stress drain the employees’ energy and make it harder for them cope with this cycle. Employers nowadays should find ways, other than financial ones, and invest in their employee’s satisfaction and motivation.

US Insurance MetLife gives a simple prescription for UAE employers: create an environment that offers more than just money to ensure employees are engaged and perform well over the long term.

But first, why do UAE employers need such a prescription?

High staff turnover

According to MetLife, there is a high staff turnover in UAE businesses at rates much higher than global averages, which is hurting productivity and wasting management time.

The study reveals that in 2014, 63 per cent of employers and 43 per cent of employees said that the company was a great place to work compared to 70 per cent of employers and 37 per cent of employees in 2017.

“Understanding what makes them less engaged should help employers address dissatisfaction,” it said. “For example, we found less than 37 per cent of employees believe that their employer creates work/life balance; and only half were convinced they felt physically and mentally able to do their job,” it added.

The study notes that many employers aren’t aware of a talented employee’s unhappiness before he chucks his job. “In the UAE, that risk is currently much higher than elsewhere in world markets. It’s estimated around a quarter of employees globally will be open to changing jobs in 2018 — but in GCC countries, some surveys put that figure as high as 57 per cent,” it said.

Read: ‘Unhappy’ employees cost businesses 16% profit

Challenges of high staff turnover to businesses

The Entrepreneur, a platform that gives expert advices to entrepreneurs, reveals that the most obvious negative impact of high turnover is the costs involved with having to continuously find, hire and train new staff.

It cites figures from saying that businesses in the UAE are estimated to spend AED9.9 billion ($2.7 billion) annually as a result of staff turnover.

The same report reveals the cost of replacing an employee at AED15,180 ($4,125), not to forget the expenses of advertising and publicizing the vacancy. “Once hired, there is further investment including new equipment, training and so on. Plus, as the vast majority of the workforce here in the UAE is made up of foreign nationals, costs for visas and accommodation may also be factored in,” it said.

So how can these employers retain employees and avoid incurring such costs?

Smarter benefits packages

MetLife’s study cites the Hays report as saying that career development and benefits package are the two most significant reasons for choosing a new employer.

It also says that a properly-tailored benefits program can create a work environment better adapted to the needs of the employee. As enhanced employee communication goes hand-in-hand with a smarter benefits program, employers are more likely to detect early signs of dissatisfaction.

“If there’s an ongoing dialogue — about how benefits are being tailored; and what physical, mental and financial wellness services most suit the employee — it’s easier to identify and address low levels of engagement or flight risk,” it said.

It adds that employers able to use their overall value proposition, to offer protection to their employees by reducing stress around financial security, retirement and family security during an illness, gain higher levels of engagement.

“High salaries remain a great way to recruit and retain employees — but they’re expensive and rarely stimulate deeper engagement. Employers can move beyond transactional relationships by offering the right kind of customized benefits built around increasingly diverse employee needs — both differentiating the business and optimizing performance,” it explains.

Read:Looking for a job? 2017 could be your year

MetLife’s prescription

MetLife says that employers who offer stability will definitely benefit, at a time of an intense uncertainty, in which employees are nervous about their job security and financial wellness against a volatile economic, cultural and political backdrop.

Moreover, offering financial security for employees and their loved ones is a competitive advantage for employers.

Metflife also advises customizing a benefits program around the most acute employee needs, within a more flexible voluntary benefits structure, which is now considered a valuable option for employers keen to recruit and retain the best talent.

It says that employers who manage to get their employees to appreciate and access their benefits see greater positive effects. They make good use of both digital and face-to-face communications and adjust their approach as new technologies come online and in line with employee feedback.

Another recipe

As for The Entrepreneur, it advises employers not to hire candidates who have hopped from job to job, because they’re unlikely to stay in the job.

It notes that it’s very important for companies in the Middle East to offer employees flexible hours, compressed work weeks, telecommuting options and forward work scheduling. “The payoff for these policies is enormous, including engaged and loyal employees, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism,” it said.

The Entrepreneur also highlights the importance of providing ongoing training and helping employees set out clear career goals and paths to make them feel valued, important and invested in the company.

Read: Rising healthcare costs concern for employers in UAE