A survey of the top 50 SMEs in the UAE showed an overwhelming majority are planning on hiring additional employees in the next six months.
More than 40 of those surveyed – around 81.5% - say expectations of strong business results towards the last quarter of 2013 would require hiring additional manpower to support growing operations. The remaining 18.5% are not hiring, although half of this group has already hired earlier in the year.
SMEs belonging to the construction sector as well as those in IT and project management are the ones most in need of additional manpower.
According to Dubai SME, the agency under the Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the Dubai SME sector, small businesses would do well to implement retention and development strategies for existing employees. “While many enlightened, willing and able SMEs realise the need to attract, retain and develop good employees, there is still a long way to go. Through the Dubai SME100 initiative, it will work with the top SMEs to create more awareness of human capital development, and showcase good SME role models for other SMEs to learn good practices of their SME peers,” said HE Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME.
Although overall the respondents had a positive outlook on their recruitment plans in the coming months, a little over 60% of the SMEs expressed some concerns over the costs of recruitment, citing visa expenses as the biggest challenged.
“Recruitment is really a big challenge for SMEs, as they are competing with bigger organisations who can perhaps offer a better compensation package. But there are also advantages of working for SMEs and start-ups – employees have a chance to grow with the organisation and build longer-term careers if the right match is established. For SMEs, they need to be more creative in developing an employment package that could include non-financial benefits that prospective candidates may find appealing,” said Robert Keay, Managing Director, Ethos Consultancy, an SME specialising in customer service and employee engagement consultancy; and a finalist in the DHL People and Culture of the Year category of the 2013 Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards.
Other challenges confronting SME owners include the lack of potential candidates with specialised skills in IT or finance.
Frank-Uwe Ungerer, Country Manager, DHL Express UAE, says having the right people is critical to the success of SMEs. “DHL puts a premium on having the right employees for our organisation. They are an invaluable asset to our success, and an even more critical factor for SMEs in their efforts to grow their businesses.”
DHL has partnered with Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards in recognising SMEs in the DHL People and Culture of the Year category which have excelled in creating a positive working environment and invested in developing its employees. This year’s finalists include Adventure HQ, biz-group, Ethos Consultancy, Innovative HR Solutions and Just Falafel.
Meanwhile, in its first ever survey on human capital, the World Economic Forum ranked the UAE 24th out of 122 countries in terms of its ability to tap human capital. This new index aims to guide countries when formulating polices and making the right decisions on investing in the economic potential of their people. Essentially, the index measures countries’ ability to develop and deploy healthy, educated and able workers through four distinct pillars: education; health and wellness; workforce and employment; and enabling environment.
The 122 countries assessed in the Human Capital Index 2013 represent over 90 percent of the world’s population. The report pointed out that a nation’s human capital endowment – productive skills and capacities – could be a more important determinant of long-term economic success than virtually any other resource.
The UAE’s ranking was boosted by good scores it obtained in the education pillar, suggesting a highly educated workforce. The country likewise scored highly in terms of capacity to retain talent, getting 6 points out of a possible high of 7.
“Experts agree that human capital is the most important asset an ogranisation can have, especially for SMEs. It’s an imperative for growth not just for businesses, even for nations. This is why from the onset we wanted a category on People and Culture, to recognise the best SMEs that have created a positive working environment and invested in developing its people,” said Becky Crayman, Head of Awards, MEED Events, organisers of the Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards.
The recently conducted survey on recruitment prospects for SMEs spoke to owners of the top 50 performing SMEs in the UAE.