Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com says SMEs in the GCC can compete with larger MNCs
September 1, 2015
With MNCs spreading their wings, are local SMEs losing potentially good employees to these bigger companies?
The state of talent in SMEs in Oman is positive. After all, Oman attracts top talent from all over the world, aside from its already talented population. The attractiveness of Oman as a place to stay has brought a myriad of expatriate talent that are being employed in SMEs and MNCs alike.
Having said that, attracting and retaining amazing talent is certainly not a matter of company size. Instead, it is about deciding to make a company a great place to work by settings goals and HR initiatives, changes, and improvements. In fact, in the Bayt.com ‘What Makes a Company an Attractive Place to Work?’ (February 2014) poll, 36.4% of respondents said they would rather work for a company with a supportive and great work environment, and a further 28% said they would work in a company they admire. Only 20% said that they would prefer working with big or global companies. Indeed, SMEs in the GCC can compete against the clout and reach of larger firms when it comes to talent in two ways: providing nurturing working environments and enhancing one’s brand.
What are the challenges faced by SMEs when it comes to attracting and retaining talent?
| Suhail Masri is VP of Sales,
|The main challenges are:
1) Not enough budget: SMEs usually don’t have enough budget to market their culture and attract the best employees. This also holds true when paying salaries. It’s usually not within their reach to pay superior competitive rates when compared to MNCs.
2) Reputation: A lot of SMEs are not very well known. This could pose a problem when recruiting top talent. After all, 76% of professionals always turn to the internet to research a company when considering a job opportunity.
3) High competition: There is always high competition for top talent, especially when it comes to overall packages and salaries. As such, it’s tough for SMEs to compete with better companies.
4) Work-life balance: In an SME, employees may be asked to work over-time. Because of this, several professionals may be discouraged from working in one.
What can be done to solve this issue?
Here are some ways SMEs can overcome the above challenges:
- Brand online: Online branding is a great way to manage reputation. Bayt.com has great tools such as job postings, and a company profile that can enhance a company’s brand online. SMEs could also engage actively on professional social channels, like Bayt.com Specialties.
- Improve hiring techniques: SMEs can improve their hiring practices and recruit only the best. They can do this by writing effective and impressive job descriptions to attract top talent. When scanning CVs, they must always check for relevancy, gaps and special achievements. During the job interview, they must be prepared beforehand by having a set of relevant questions for each candidate. It’s important to communicate with candidates – don’t leave them hanging!
- Elevating the company’s vision: Employees feel much more involved, engaged and trusted when top management regularly shares the company’s vision, mission, direction and important decisions with them.
- Getting fair remuneration packages in light of their job duties: It might be true that money cannot buy loyalty but not giving employees what they are worth can definitely chase them away. ‘Bayt.com Salaries’ is a salary tool any SME can use to find the average salaries in Oman.
- Receiving proper training and development: Employees tend to put more effort into their jobs when they feel valuable to their company. If owners invest in their employees (trainings, seminars, skill development…) and cater to their professional needs, they’re most likely to invest right back in their jobs, thereby producing more revenue and committing to their jobs even more.
- Being recognised and rewarded where relevant: A simple word of recognition for a job well done can do wonders to an employee’s morale. Companies that recognise and reward their employees’ contributions routinely and systematically have already curtailed one of the main reasons for staff turnover.
What can be done by the government to make the sector more attractive?
According to the Bayt.com Nationalization in the GCC Poll, April 2015, 53% of respondents say that the best way to improve the hiring of national talent is by providing better educational and vocational training facilities.
While it is not possible for SMEs to match MNCs on the salary part, what can be done in terms of improving the work environment?
While salaries are certainly important, they aren’t everything. Here are some ways an SME can improve work environment to make them on par with MNCs:
1. Have a value-based HR system: Having a value-based HR system definitely does wonders for team morale. SMEs should take the time to flesh out their mission, vision and values, and to familiarise employees with it. Half of MENA respondents would rather work at a company where they feel the work they do is part of a greater purpose, with 22.6% wanting to believe in the company’s mission, vision and/or values (The Bayt.com “What Makes a Company an Attractive Place to Work?” poll).
2. Transparency is key: SME owners should ensure that managers are encouraged to have an open and frequent dialogue with their team. Employees should also be involved in much of the decision-making process, whether it is for a new product or on improved policies.
3. Better employee experience results in more productivity. Companies should focus on the employee experience. A happy employee is a motivated and productive team member.
4. Employees need good work/life balance. Of course, it wouldn’t be an employee-centric culture if SMEs don’t recognise the importance of work/life balance and the needs of employees to give prominence to family. Working mothers should be offered the option of flexible working hours and sometimes telecommuting.
5. Eliminate stress. It’s possible to alleviate employee stress by understanding it sources. According to the Bayt.com Employee Motivation in the MENA survey, January 2012, the primary sources of stress for MENA professionals are poor pay (16.1%), poor management (15.6%), poor work environment (15%) and poor work/life balance (14.5%).
Suhail Masri is VP of Sales at Bayt.com. He will be speaking at the Oman SME Summit organised by IFM at Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Ritz Carlton on September 13-14