The Impact of Emiratisation on HR Strategy

The central issue in this research is to assess how HR managers can deal with the challenge of applying Emiratisation. This has to begin with a delineation of the issues facing HR Directors across the Emirates since all firms have the challenge of efficiently incorporating Emiratisation targets into their wider HR strategy. This challenge has to be tackled, since Emiratisation is an important driving force for change in HRM if UAE is to become more modern and inclusive (Randeree 2009).

This section discusses HR strategy and outlines some of the main challenges faced by firms trying to integrate Emiratisation targets into their HR strategy. This section examines five key areas of HR strategy that are salient to the UAE. 2. 3. 1 Employee Resourcing Employee resourcing is about making sure the organisation recruits and retains the human capital it needs and employs them productively (Armstrong 2006a). Staffing positions in organisations are dependent on effective recruitment and selection procedures and may well represent one of the most important HR management functions (Newell 2005a, Cheung and Brown 1998).

Staffing from the internal and external job market should ideally reflect job-relevant decisions and capitalise on critical knowledge, skills, and abilities that contribute to a firm’s overall effectiveness and its competitive advantage (Newell 2005b, Judge and Ferris 1992). There are a number of ways in which HR professionals and departments can handle the relevant Emiratisation protocols, policies and procedures (Randeree 2009). One option is to prioritise UAE nationals when recruiting for all vacant posts, regardless of the organisational division or level, subject only to the applicants’ qualifications and job experience.

Another option is to use a quota system, in which case the firm attempts to achieve internal development targets or those required by the government. A third, stricter option is to reserve certain roles, generally senior management positions, strictly for Emirati nationals, subject to applicants’ competency and performance levels. Senior management positions may be filled by expatriates only if there are no qualified Emirati applicants available.

Another simple option that can be explored is the government’s reduction of incentives to working in the public sector such as the lowering of wages in comparison to those offered by private firms (International Monetary Fund, 2004). While these options are all available, the research shows that firms generally have problems recruiting well-qualified and experienced Emiratis, especially for senior management roles, (Al-Ali 2006, 2008, Forstenlechner 2008, Al Dosary 2004, Abdelkarim 2001, Abdelkarim and Ibrahim, 2001).

The results of the study conducted by Al-Ali provide the reasons why such recruitment problem exists (2006:16): The study identified four main reasons pushing UAE nationals out of the private sector as lack of career development prospects, amount of hours worked in a week and little opportunity for promotion compared to what UAE nationals gain in the public sector. These issues are even more chronic in specific sectors, such as technology, construction and manufacturing (Randeree 2009, Rees et al. 2007).

Additionally, because it is so difficult to recruit nationals for these positions and in these industries, suitable individuals are in an especially strong position to demand a high salary that is often greater than the salaries and benefits their non-national superiors receive (Randeree 2009). However, compliance with government policies on Emiratisation may continue to serve as encouragement, if not serve as a mandate, for private firms to hire nationals. Many UAE firms are facing greater challenges because of the Emiratisation policy, which has led to an influx of new college graduates among Emirati job applicants.

As senior and middle management positions are already saturated in most companies, these new applicants are being forced to take entry-level, technical and even manual positions. From the government’s viewpoint, of course, this is a positive development, and an indication that the Emiratisation policy is working. On the positive side, the new recruits should be seen as a part of the companies’ long-term strategy and so the resources are being secured for the long-term future. However, at the moment, this skews the workforce in one direction and places tension on organisations that must make large volumes of new recruits “job-ready.

” Orientation is a natural extension of the recruitment and selection function (Mullins 2001) and the ease with which new staff adapts to a job is dependent on the types of relationships that they establish with colleagues (Cawyer et al. 2002). This is particularly important in organisations that have a large number of new recruits. And even more critical in industries where almost many of the experienced staff are retiring (voluntarily or otherwise) at the end of their contracts and so need to pass on their tacit knowledge quickly.

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