Talent Retention

Found this concept paper I wrote for a client a couple of years ago. Indeed it is a huge issue here in the UAE. Have a look at some thoughts I penned down.


What are the most common causes of low employee retention rates in the UAE? Here are some common comments from employees who plan to leave their organization from interviews in employee engagement studies and exit interview data:

“I am not leaving the organization. I am leaving my boss.”
“Nobody ever says thank you around here.”
“I was told to do X but I was expected to do Y.”
“My supervisor persistently looks over my shoulder. I do not feel trusted.”
“The only way to move up is to move out.”
“When I wanted to be challenged, he told me P.A.s are not supposed to think.”
“I was hired for my talents but I never had the opportunity to utilize them.”


You might want to try the following strategies:

Employee Loyalty Schemes. Many organizations in the U.S. offer profit-sharing schemes to employees for them to feel ownership of the company. Quarterly vouchers for outlets and other places of interest such as stress-busting activities go a long way to make employees feel rewarded.

Appreciation Programs. This is more than your regular ‘employee of the month’. Appreciation schemes must include rewards that are customized to employees’ personal tastes, uses, personal interests. They also must come as a surprise, so employees are not expecting it at a particular time, and must happen immediately after excellence is demonstrated in the job or an incident that reflects company values.

Health Schemes. Go beyond your normal offerings of gym memberships for senior level management and medical insurance. A bright mind is connected to a fit body so an investment in getting employees fitness levels up will make them feel valued not just for their skills, but for them as individuals.

Work-Life Balance Schemes. There is an untapped resource of potential employees in the UAE and this group is part-time women employees. The UAE still lags behind in providing facilities that would allow employees to maintain a work-life balance, especially for women who want to contribute to organizations but are not available full-time. This is surprising in the UAE where family values are so high but corporate environment is still rigid about work hours. If more flex-time and work-from-home options are available, more employees would want to make that organization their employer of choice.

Employee Retreats. This is where it all comes together for employees. This is a 3-day offsite event that engages employees to provide feedback to results of employee engagement surveys and creating collaborative action plans on their suggestions on priority areas of workplace issues. There is no substitute for listening to people’s feedback on what would make them perform with more intensity and dedication.


Analyze your current employee retention trends by investigating the following.
What is the average time an employee at your company chooses to stay employed for?
Are there particular departments that witness a migration of employees?
Are there particular job levels that witness a migration of employees?
Were most of your employee resignations expected or surprising?
Do most resignations occur at certain times of the year?

Analyze internal/external factors surrounding the underlying causes.
“People do not leave organizations. They leave their boss.” Does this sound true in your organization?
What is the current strategy in your organization to retain employees?
Are you a market leader, follower, or lagger in terms of compensation/benefits?
How do you show appreciation to employees?
How do you reward employees for excellence?

Analyze employee feedback.
What have ex-employees said on their exit interviews?
When interviewing prospective candidates what do they say about their ideal work environment?
What are main results in your employee engagement studies? Have actions come out of the studies? Do results vary every year?
What do the most loyal employees say about reasons for working in your organization?

Analyze organizational culture.
Does the workplace accept people of different work styles?
Does politics and favoritism affect employee morale?
Are ideas openly heard and encouraged?
Does the organization let employees express their personal style be it workspace design, flex time, dress code?
Does the organization emphasize effort (long hours) or results?

What are you doing to retain your best talent?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *