5 Tips to Overcome a SME’s Biggest Challenge – Attracting Human Capital

By Ramy Assaf

At the most recent Arabia 500, an event honoring a collection of the regions fastest
growing SMEs, an important question was asked. What is their biggest challenge?
Managing directors and CEOs chimed in and the result became clear. It may come as
some surprise but the most prominent response was NOT access to financial capital,
but rather, the most common challenge was acquiring top talent. Talent that could
help take their organizations to the next level.

It’s a tricky problem magnified by a few systematic issues. SMEs must be fast
and agile, they’re looking to turnover and show growth. Some of them have HR
operations and some don’t. They often don’t have training programs, or career
development offerings, they just need to hire people that are ready to go. They don’t
have the ability to recruit the old fashion and expensive way.

This problem is further intensified by the fact that quality job seekers don’t look for
jobs at SMEs. Right?

Well not so fast, that may not necessarily be true. The notion that good talent wants
to work for big companies is a slowly eroding theme. In fact recent studies show an
ever-growing rise in interest to work in smaller, more fast paced organizations. The
allure of a promising startup, the flexibility of less bureaucracy, and the exposure to
more elements within an organization are all making the case for working at SMEs,
well, kinda sexy.

So how does top talent and SMEs meet? Here are a few hints to help you find the
best talent:

-Invest in a good website with a properly branded career section. Let traffic know
what makes your company standout, and why people should work there.

-Don’t be cheap or cut corners. Offer competitive packages & stock options if

-Do small things for company morale. Plan trips, special events, bring a pet to work,
etc. Create stories to publicize and give a good impression of corporate culture.

-Post your job openings in the right places. Use niche sites or communities.

-Use PR wisely, companies can often impress. Speak to the media, and keep your
company in the public conscious.

Manage Employee Mobility Costs is Key for MENA Companies to Remain Competitive

By HireMENA- Press Release

In the GCC region, where expatriates comprise the majority of the ‘white collar’ labour force, Mercer, the global HR consulting firm, says it has witnessed a rising demand for advice on managing employee mobility and related costs.

According to the company, the total cost of moving a senior execu¬tive and their family abroad for a multi-year commitment, including compensation, benefits and accommodation, can easily work out to be three times their base pay.

“As the GCC region’s economic climate settles into a stage of recovery, companies are looking further into mobilising their workforce to support their growth plans and internal development objectives while still striving to control costs wherever possible,” said Mercer’s Middle East Business Leader, Zaid Kamhawi, “This has presented HR and other senior managers with a difficult balancing act between managing human capital costs without losing their competitive advantage, particularly in emerging markets.”

Mercer recently concluded a mobility training workshop in Dubai to address this topic – the first of its kind in the Middle East – which was attended by a number of global and regional companies.

“There are many ways to control employee costs; the workshop was designed to help HR professionals understand different mobility management approaches and improve efficiencies when preparing for the everyday challenges of international assignments,” continued Kamhawi.

“The topic of expatriate management is growing in importance, particularly as an increasing number of regional companies are progressively maturing and expanding their business across the Middle East. This has in turn created the need for effective methods of dealing with the complexities of managing mobile staff,” he added.

To further support this global shift, Mercer has partnered with Equus Software, a leader in state-of-the-art technology solutions, to implement AssignmentPro – an international assignment management software system that uses best-in-class technology to streamline expatriate administration.

“It is essential to stay current with innovative technologies, such as Assignment Pro, that offer clients the right solutions to overcome mobility challenges more efficiently,” concluded Kamhawi, “With the aid of these tools, both employers and employees will be able to benefit from easier transition during geographical reallocation.”

Done is Better Than Perfect – Allow and Reward Workplace Mistakes to Foster Innovation

By Gillian Duncan

Painted on the walls of one of the world’s most successful companies is a motto that may surprise some: “Done is better than perfect.”

Experts say the message in Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters holds an important lesson for the company’s employees: it is OK to make mistakes.

“Companies want people who are creative. [They] want innovation. [They] want to be at the forefront,” says Kevin Abdulrahman, a leadership expert who spoke about creativity at the Rotary Club of Dubai this month.

“But some companies are not creating the environment for creativity and innovation,” he adds.

Businesses that do create the right kind of setting take an interesting approach to employee errors.

When an engineer at Facebook makes a mistake, the person is not fired or ridiculed. “They say ‘OK good stuff; let’s fix the bug and get on with it’,” says Mr Abdulrahman.

The approach encourages employees to be more daring. Allowing for mistakes is the single biggest step any company can take to encourage creativity and innovation, according to Mr Abdulrahman.

“How can your people try things out if they’re worried about putting their neck out on the line because they’re going to get fired for the first mistake they make?” he says. “Failure is a must.”

This does not mean that making the same mistake repeatedly is acceptable, he warns. But people who do not make mistakes are not necessarily progressing, says Panos Manolopoulos, the vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Stanton Chase International.

“Development is based on making mistakes,” he says.

Appreciation is another way to improve creativity, according to Mr Abdulrahman.

He says he knows of a woman who worked for a Fortune 500 company in the Emirates and at the outset was so excited about the work she was doing that she did not mind putting in long hours. But when Mr Abdulrahman met her six months into her role, her workload and hours had remained the same but her attitude had turned negative.

What had happened?

She said her manager had changed and did not appreciate her — and she quit because she felt undervalued.

“Three years down the track, that company has called her to say ‘would you like a job with us?’ And she said ‘no thank you, I’m happy where I am and I feel appreciated’,” he adds.

Other companies use money to encourage employee creativity and innovation. But after a while, money no longer motivates peopleas effectively as in the beginning, says Mr Abdulrahman.

“We know of far too many professionals who have switched jobs for even less pay just because they feel they can have a sense of ownership and they can be part of something, that their efforts will be seen or counted,” he says.

Many human-resources professionals and recruitment agents say they are concerned about finding talent in the future.

“But are we creating the environment to bring out the talent we have and also attract talent?” says Mr Abdulrahman. “If you are a talented professional, you want to work in place where you feel you can let loose.”

Facebook and Google are just a couple of organisations that excel at encouraging employee creativity.

“You can just look at the companies that have the buzz where everyone [says] ‘I would love to work there’. They are obviously doing something right,” he adds.

Mistakes in the workplace aren't all bad – The National

Adopt Corporate Social Responsibility Principles to Drive Organizational Growth

By HireMENA-Press Release

Corporate Social Responsibility should be the underlining principle that drives growth in all organisations. In order to be truly effective, CSR principles must be adopted at all levels and implemented on a day-to-day basis. Majid Al Futtaim Properties has discovered this link and has developed a unique strategy which reaches out to its over 140 million customers. Their policies are designed to support employees, customers, tenants and community, and economic development. For 2012 the company will allocate a budget for resource efficiency and sustainability. This will ensure that natural resources are used in construction thus reducing carbon footprint. In addition they will invest in systems and equipment that are more efficient in using water and power.

“The best companies are those which demonstrate that they are committed to a long term sustainable strategy that balances the interest of all stakeholders,” says Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi Head of CSR at Majid Al Futtaim Properties and speaker at this year’s 9th CSR Summit. “Getting this balance right is Corporate Social Responsibility and underlies the principles that drive growth which should be economically efficient, socially fair and environmentally sustainable. Companies need to relealise that CSR is not just the responsibility of the CEO, senior management team or the board. To be truly effective, CSR principles must be adopted by everybody in the organisation.”

Al-Zu’bi said sustainable CSR policies need to work in conjunction with partners. Majid Al Futtaim Properties reduces the amount of CO2 emissions from cars by encouraging their customers to use public transportation. By involving their tenants in their CSR policy, they engage in active dialogue with them in order to reduce energy waste in their stores and encourage environmentally friendly procedures such as tenants signing “green clauses”. They have also introduced “green star” ratings based on how environmentally efficient tenants are.

They do the same with their employees by promoting localisation and providing equal opportunities for men and women. In order to develop community and economic development, they create job opportunities and partner with local service providers from the community, this includes non-profit organisations.

Rabea Ataya, CEO of Bayt.com and also a speaker at the Summit, agrees that CSR is highly beneficial to organisations.
“At Bayt.com, we strongly feel that the community at large is a key stakeholder that must be engaged and satisfied for the sustainability of our work. Our CSR focus comes from the realization that we can only succeed if we empower people in our community to lead better lives,” continued Ataya.

The 9th CSR Summit will take place from 10 to 13 June at The Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, where Al-Zu’bi and Ataya will discuss how organisations can lock CSR into its core business along with other speakers. Also presenting at the summit, will be Rania Tayeh, Branding and CSR officer for Dubai Aluminium Company, Huw Gilbert, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs-AMEA for PepsiCo, and the events official CSR partner.

In addition, for the second consecutive year, PepsiCo will once again be holding its CSR Youth Forum, bringing together like-minded youth from around the region to debate and develop a route for creating a more sustainable and healthier future for the Middle East. This year’s full-day event will include interactive workshops, speaker panels and discussion groups on topics relating to health, environment and talent sustainability under the theme of ‘Be the Change’. PepsiCo is investing in this forum to provide a platform where youth can have their voices heard and to build their leadership capabilities in the area of social responsibility.

IIR would like to thank the Summit sponsors and exhibitors for their continued support at this year’s Summit: PepsiCo, Henkel, Counterpart International and Procter and Gamble

10 percent of all delegate fees at the event will be donated to the Dubai Autism Centre as part of IIR Middle East, the event organisers CSR initiative.

GCC HR Professional of the Year is Surour Alsamerai of Kuwaiti Gulf Bank

By Arab Times

Gulf Bank announced on Tuesday that Surour Alsamerai, General Manager of Human Resources at Gulf Bank, was awarded ‘HR Professional of the Year’ at the 4th Annual GCC HR Excellence Awards Ceremony, organized by NASEBA.

The awards ceremony took place at Habtoor Grand Beach Resort, Dubai, on May 22, 2012, to recognize excellence in HR and Management practices within GCC public and private organizations, acknowledging individuals and organizations.

Upon receiving the award, Surour Alsamerai said: “On behalf of Gulf Bank I am proud to receive this award. Our HR approach, focuses on continuous improvement, expanding knowledge, developing our team and doing what we believe in to deliver the very best in client service is a big factor in achieving this recognition.

This GCC HR Excellence Award is an acknowledgment of the collaborative excellence of our Human Resources team and the great support we receive from all of our stakeholders in the Bank.

“At Gulf Bank we take great pride in implementing our HR strategy, which seeks to develop our employees’ skills to deliver excellent customer satisfaction, in direct support of our customer promise to provide the best and fastest service.

“We will continue to focus on motivating our employees and allowing them to succeed in an environment that combines outstanding teamwork and empowerment, with a passion for excellence”.

I thank the organizers for this award, and for choosing Gulf Bank as the ‘Employer of Choice’,” concluded Alsamerai.

A number of Gulf Bank’s HR team attended the 7th Annual Human Assets Expansion Middle East Summit which was designed specifically for HR professionals, and themed ’2012 – HR Strategies Rewritten’. The summit connected some 150 Heads of HR from different sectors to enhance information sharing, networking and deal flow through a three day initiative.

Kuwait-Gulf Bank’s Alsamerai named HR Professional of the Year

Business Friendly Environment Helps UAE Climb in Economic Competitive Rankings

By Chris Hough

Reliable infrastructure, a business-friendly environment and a dynamic economy are the key attractiveness indicators that have helped the UAE climb 12 places to 16 in the 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) rankings.

The WCY rankings measure how well countries manage their economies and human resources to increase their prosperity. The survey is conducted by IMD, a global business school based in Switzerland.

The most competitive of the 59 ranked economies in 2012 was Hong Kong, followed by the US and Switzerland. But the UAE was the biggest climber, jumping from the 28th position in 2011 to the 16th this year. Dr Hischam El Agamy, Executive Director, IMD, said a fertile environment for business made a big difference over the past 12 months.

“This result, in my opinion, is down to the alignment of government and business. Businesses in the UAE have made the most of policies and framework provided by the government. We’ve looked into this data several times and there are no mistakes. The government did a great job creating the framework for businesses to grow,” said El Agamy, who is responsible for IMD’s activities in south-east Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and South-east Asia.

In the IMD survey of more than 4,200 international executives, respondents were asked to select five key attractiveness indicators of each country’s economy from a list of 15. The most popular response for the UAE was reliable infrastructure (61.9 per cent) followed by business-friendly environment (58.3), dynamism of the economy (51.2), open and positive attitudes (46.4) and competency of government (39.3).

Looking towards the next 12 months, El Agamy believes the UAE is in a position to weather the economic storm originating from Europe. He cites the UAE’s key attractiveness indicators as reasons why the economy could continue to grow.

“We’re all on the same planet, but some countries have more opportunity for growth than others,” said El Agamy. “The Middle East is a prosperous region but a lot depends on what happens in other parts of the world. There is still a lot to be done in some countries, but the UAE can counter balance between Europe and Asia. It is attracting investors from the right places; Asia sees the UAE as a great hub.”

The IBD World Competitiveness Yearbook has been published since 1989 and is recognised as one of the leading annual reports on the competitiveness of nations.

Business – UAE climbs up in economic competitive rankings

Looking to Advance in Your Career? Don’t Fake Your CV

By Gaurav Ghose

In the end, Scott Thompson had to go. Even though the former CEO of Yahoo! was chosen to be the right person to turn the beleaguered internet company around, the revelation that he “embellished his academic credentials”, finally forced him from office.

This was despite the view of his supporters that, given his successful professional record, he should be allowed to continue in his work.

So, does “embellishing academic credentials” or any other form of stretching the truth to boost one’s resume matter?
“It certainly does matter,” said Andrew McNeilis, managing director EMEA, Talent2. “Yahoo! is a public company and will need to subscribe to the highest standards of governance compliance and probity. If the leader can lie about their academic qualifications they can lie about the company results.”

John Martin St. Valery, CEO of Dubai-based Links Group, which assists in company formation in the UAE and Qatar, says CEOs and senior management should act as role models to their colleagues.

“This isn’t to say that everyone should be held to one standard, but misrepresenting yourself in any way raises many red flags. It’s always key to be consistent with company and state regulations, and enforcing them across all levels, with no exceptions,” said St. Valery.

While it is true that the UAE and the Middle East insists on attested certificates and verifications, local search firms agree that there are instances of people trying to fudge their resumes.


“It does seem to be a fairly common phenomenon in the GCC, perhaps because expatriates assume that they have left the mechanisms behind that could catch them,” said Toby Simpson, managing director of The Gulf Recruitment Group.

McNeilis agrees. “There are always people trying it on.”
Embellishing or faking CV’s is more common at the highest professional levels, according to Simpson.

He cited an instance of an investment professional in 2010 seeking a seven figure package, but was eventually caught out by Gulf Recruitment, simply because a supposedly famous US referee he had given had a vaguely Asian accent and wasn’t aware of personal details of himself. Deeper investigation revealed that the entire CV was fabricated, he said. In fact, the person was successful in duping several recruitment agencies.

However, McNeilis said being found out is more common in tough times when employers are very cautious, have more time, and give more scrutiny to potential hires. “In a bull market they often gloss over detail to secure seemingly good talent,” he said.

Some of the most common exaggerations or falsifications occur in the areas of qualifications, current and past roles and the positions one held and salaries.

“Normally people will try and stretch out dates to fill in gaps in employment. They will say, for example, 2005 to 2006 — when actually they worked December 2005 to September 2006,” said McNeilis.

“Also, many people hype their salaries, often making out their basic is higher that it is by including benefits in kind or potential bonuses. Also, [there is the] University-attended versus completed [lie],” he added.

Simpson adds that educational grades are a common area of white lies, as are missing out jobs that didn’t last long, long periods of unemployment and altering job titles or responsibilities.

Also, when it comes to achievements, McNeilis points to the lack of distinction between personal achievements and that of a team — in effect claiming credit for others work. Lying on business titles and reporting lines are also common.


“It is amazing how many people will upgrade their title and not think it will be verified. [Often] when we [check] a reference, we find this out,” said McNeilis.

And being caught lying can do irreparable damage.

“The fallout from even the tiniest half truth or omission is normally huge,” said Simpson. “Trust plays a large part in the hiring process and the act of deception — once caught — is more often than not far more damaging than the details that have been skewed. You would have to be a superstar to survive in the interview process much longer,” he explained. It’s tough [to repair the damage], but all you can offer is an honest appraisal of why you choose to lie on your CV in the first place, said McNeilis.

Faking your CV? Think again