Managing and retaining talent is viewed as HR’s biggest challenge over the next two years, according to a new survey by Hays.

Sixty per cent of HR directors polled for the DNA of an HR Leader report – published in association with CIPD Middle East – said it would be their most significant area of focus during that time period.

Chris Greaves, managing director, Hays Gulf Region, said the workforce in the region had always been transient, but that the challenging economic climate of the past two years, coupled with the continuous influx of new business ventures, amounted to a more competitive landscape for organisations.

“As a result, reducing staff turnover and retaining top talent is of much greater significance to employers than previous years,” he said. “Not only is top talent a critical factor to organisational success, the costs associated with finding, hiring and training resource are also substantial. It is therefore not surprising that retention and talent management are high on the list of priorities.”

Greaves said employers faced a twofold challenge. “Not only must they benchmark their offerings above that of the competition, but they must also keep costs to a minimum,” he said. “Raising pay rates is only a short-term solution to reducing staff turnover and one which is both outdated and unsustainable in today’s market.”

Hannah McDermott, director of HR consultancy People Plus, agreed that companies must benchmark their offerings. “Benefits, not just salaries, should be taken into account. The working environment, amenities and commute play a key factor too,” she said.

McDermott believes that if companies have not already created the right culture to retain talent, they could be too late. “Retention strategies should include relevant and positive learning and performance development programmes that are based on employee needs, not wants, which open opportunities for progression and personal development, and empower and build confidence in individual and co-worker capability. This will in turn instil a greater sense of loyalty,” she said.

“Key to this is strong mid and senior management that know the direction and role they play in the business and can manage and lead effectively, inspiring those around them.

The integration of senior HR professionals within the businesses they serve was suggested, in the report, as being one of the secrets to successfully retaining employees.

“HR should be visibly partnering with the business at all levels and providing guidance to employees – and then HR will be able to gauge the temperature of the business and pre-empt retention issues,” said McDermott.

Hays’ 2017 GCC Salary & Employment Report, published earlier this year, found that 57 per cent of working professionals in the GCC were looking to switch employer this year.

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