Contractors urged to value staff

Edexcel MENA regional director Mark Andrews urges construction companies to value staff or pay the price

Is the regions labour market unique and what challenges are posed?

Apart from top management, jobs are almost always going to expatriates. With economies such as India growing, people will start to look at domestic markets rather than the Gulf.

However, while conditions in this region may be tough they are relatively better than those in other developing countries. Companies in the Middle East should take advantage of this to position themselves as what we term ‘employers of choice’; organisations that people actively search for and are proud and happy to work for.

What are the typical reasons for staff members leaving a construction company in this region?

Unfortunately money is a key factor due to the high cost of living. The attitude or policies of the management is another; a number of polls undertaken in the region suggest employees tend to feel that their management is not considerate and does not appreciate the work they do. Employees do not generally believe that the management will do what is best for them. A third factor is the highly-transient nature of the expat labour market  which we can speak volumes about.

What are the risks of freezing pay rises and failing to promote staff in due course to cut costs?

Generally speaking, employees are unmotivated and therefore less productive. They may also begin to feel unappreciated. These factors could compel them to abandon their current employer or the specific industry and look for opportunities elsewhere.

What are the consequences of having a high staff turnover?

High staff turnover primarily leads to losing skills and, consequently, losing business since the company has less staff and is unable to complete projects and compete. Then there is the cost of replacing skills; finding industry- and role-specific skill sets.

A third cost could be the investment lost in previous training, not to mention the lowering of morale among existing staff due to the exit of their colleagues, especially when they join competitors.

What other research relating to retention in the regional construction sector has been conducted?

Research on specific sectors doesnt get enough attention in this region. It would be beneficial for industry if sector specific research was conducted.

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