Institute’s findings highlight how companies are aware of the workforce priorities across the region but lack tangible strategies to deliver them

UAE – Dubai, 14th November 2016: One of the largest surveys of its kind in the Middle East, coordinated by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s new ME office,  has unveiled a wide ranging statistics on the changing face of the region’s workplace.

This survey is the first of it’s kind from CIPD, but this will become an annual barometer; collating data from more than 1000 respondants who are directly involved in making HR decisions for their organisations all across the GCC. Crucially 35% of respondants are business owners or C-Suite and board level with 23% being senior managers within the HR sector.

Main findings from the survey show that the current main strategic HR priorities for respondents are the attraction and retention of talent, employee well-being, happiness and engagement and learning, development and performance management.

Nearly half (48%) of the respondants say their approach to HR strategy and planning falls into a short term only; two years or less which might present issues if not addressed. The risk is that without a longer term lens, the industry will remain reactive; dealing with only immediate issues as opposed to putting in place a more robust frame work to support the future workforce. When asked what the top trends were which might have the most extensive impact on their organization’s workforce strategy in the next five years; the overwhelming response was the change in the economic and political environment in the region (45%). This was very closely followed by the recognisation that innovation to rival competition (44%) was also key.

One of the main areas that HR departments are looking to overhaul in the next five years is the recruitment and retention of young talent from the region. With current youth unemployment standing at twice the global average (28.4%)* in the MENA region, there is a recognition that businesses need to work harder to recruit the 65%* *  of the working population which is aged under 30. Encouragingly, most of the respondents surveyed confirm they are seeking to recruit young people (aged 16-24) with 57% actually recruiting, 33% offering internships and 11% offering apprenticeships.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of CIPD comments: “We are seeing a disconnect between the need to get young people into the workforce and the strategies being implemented by businesses to drive this. One area identified by the survey is the lack of close partnerships with the education sector with only 26% of respondents confirming a company presence at careers fairs. This is a major opportunity for industry to work with educational institutions to design course syllabuses to meet their future workforce needs. Only 24% offer work experience or work placement visits also.”

Companies are recognising the importance of wellness in the workplace but only 14% respondants report that their companies have standalone strategies for health and wellbeing and 21% of respondants felt that operational demands take precedence over well-being considerations. This is also an area which must be addressed by industries looking to protect the workforce and the maintain economic viability of their offering.

The survey also examined the role of women in the workplace and opportunities for flexible working arrangements in the GCC. There have been improvements over recent years with 55% citing proactive strategies to improve gender diversity. However, responses show that women account for 26% of the region’s total workforce which tracks dramatically under the global average of 40%***. As careers are built and progress through to executive roles, the under representation of women in the workplace becomes more apparent with females accounting for just 21% of management or mid-management roles, 16% of senior management roles and 15% board-level.

However, more positively 23% of respondants said their board was made up of 30% or more females and 12% confirming that 50% or more of their board were women.

With flexible working being firmly on the agenda to encourage sustainability across the region worryingly 25% of respondents to the survey are actually expecting to decrease their part-time offering over the next 12 months. This is an area which must be a priority for HR functions to consider to meet the demands and expectations of the workforce of the future.

Findings from survey results have been segmented into:

Employee health and well-being, technology in the workplace, flexible working, women in the workplace and investing in the workforce of the future – all which are available in infographic format alongside a full survey.

For more information on CIPD visit

*Horne et al 2016
*** World Bank 2014

For a full survey, infographics and interview requests please contact Sarah Doyle on [email protected].

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is the professional body for HR and people development. With a dedicated office for the Middle East, located in Dubai, UAE.

The not for profit organization champions better work and working lives and has been setting the benchmark for excellence in people and organisation development for more than 100 years. It has more than 140,000 members across the world, provides thought leadership through independent research on the world of work and offers professional training and accreditation for those working in HR and learning development.