Changes and developments in maternity leave in the UAE

Know your rights!

Maternity leave is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. With laws changing and different companies publicly announcing new policies. It is vital that everyone knows what to expect and what their rights are.

What is the current law in the UAE?

Currently the law in the UAE requires employers to provide employees with a minimum of 45 days maternity cover, and they have the option to provide employees with an additional 100 days unpaid cover. If you work in the DIFC then things are a little better with 65 days maternity leave, 33 days full pay and 32 days half pay. However, this is dependent on how long you have worked at your company.

As an employee it is vital for you to sit down and research what maternity leave you are entitled to.

The UAE is striving to ensure equality for women and gender balance in the workplace. The ruler of Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has even announced a goal for the UAE to become one of the leaders in gender equality by 2021.

Why is maternity leave so important?

The Ministry of Labour realises the importance of maternity leave. Many women may end up quitting their jobs to have a longer recovery time rather than take the 45 days. People do think that 6 weeks really isn’t long enough for a person to recover after the stress of childbirth, the early days are also essential bonding time between a mother and child.

Having a comprehensive maternity leave will help to progress and reinstate the importance of having women in the workplace. It is refreshing to see a government openly and confidently discussing this topic.

So what is changing in the UAE?

There have been many changes in the government sector of the UAE, and this has had a trickle down effect into the private sector. Hopefully we will see more and more developments in the future.

In the Abu Dhabi government the maternity leave has been extended from 45 days to 3 months, and women will be entitled to 2 hours leave every day for the first year after their baby is born. New fathers will also be able to take 3 days paternity leave. This move is highly popular and shows a great deal of development with regards to women’s equality in the work place and also the recognition of the importance for fathers to spend time with their new children.

In the UAE this is a positive first step and hopefully will be replicated throughout the rest of the Emirates.

We are also seeing some companies following suit in Dubai with some companies doubling the amount of leave for women from 45 days to 100 days, this is going above and beyond what is required under the UAE labour law. Making Dubai a far more attractive place for families to work and make their home.  

These improvements are incredibly important to employees throughout the UAE and are only the first steps. The UAE is dedicated and currently in conversation to see how they can improve the workplace for women and in turn for everyone. 

Achieving success by effectively supporting your employees

Why you should be using KPIs in your business

Most businesses could be improved simply by understanding how well their employees are working.

  • Are they applying their skills?
  • Are they reaching their targets?
  • Do they understand how to reach these targets?

If an HR department can evaluate the performance of an employee and then use this information to skilfully manage employee performance, then this should lead to a well-balanced and productive workforce. A real and effective way to achieve this is through the use of KPIs.

A KPI or Key Performance Indicator, put simply, is a method to assess how competently your company is meeting and achieving its targets; basically it is a tool for you to gather information.

KPQ comes before KPI

When assessing your business, it is first important to ask what you are assessing.

How do we make the decision? Finding the right KPI should start with knowing exactly what your business goals are. So therefore you must find the right KPQs?

Right, so what is a KPQ? A KPQ is a Key Performance Question. By knowing what questions to ask to assess your company you can develop the correct KPIs.

For example, you could ask:

  • How well are our partnerships progressing?
  • How well are we meeting our customers’ demands?
  • To what extent are we enhancing our international reputation?

Once you have your list of relevant KPQs you can now ask the relevant people to collect enough information to create a list of informed and directed KPIs.

Selecting & implementing your KPIs

Using the information from your KPQs it is possible to create number of targeted KPIs. The point of a KPI is to allow the HR department and executives to easily and effectively monitor whether goals are being reached.

Some examples of KPIs are:

  • Customer lifetime value
  • Sales by region
  • Percentage of product defects

    So how can KPIs help your business? KPIs can focus your employee’s attention.  Instead of them trying to hit some vague target they will have a specific route to increase sales. They will also assist in promoting consistency. It may be all very well to have those high performance weeks, but it is important to realise why you are not constantly performing at the same rate - drawing attention as to why you have those dips.

More crucially, KPIs encourage transparency. In business it is vital to be open.  Through KPI scores, it is possible to see who is performing and who may be struggling. Making it possible to offer training and support to those employees rather than having them quit or gradually lose confidence, which will in turn affect your profits.

What next?

So how can you use KPIs to improve performance? KPIs allow smoother communication between staff members. Instead of just randomly appointing praise and blame, it will now be clear exactly where the positives and negatives in your business lie.

It will be possible to have data and fact-driven meetings weekly or monthly, where you can discuss together possible areas of improvement and the areas that are succeeding. Management can offer advice and allocate a budget to the most suitable training methods for the people who really need it, rather than indiscriminate and unnecessary sessions.

KPIs do benefit everybody.

However, it is vital to invest some initial time on deciding which areas are to be targeted. Also, you need to be willing to reevaluate every 6 or 12 months. If you work hard on implementing your chosen KPIs then you will immediately begin to see results and a more efficient work force. 

3 ways to build a culture of innovation in your company

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Galvanise your workforce towards progress “The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” Bob Iger – CEO Disney

This all sounds very impressive and motivating, however, does anyone actually know in practical terms what the “I” word really means. Put simply, it is the introduction of novel products, which in turn add value to the business and customer.

Sounds fairly straightforward, right? But how can you inspire innovation in your workforce?

Make it your core business philosophy

In order to have truly innovative business practices, it must be central to your mission. Your employees need to feel as if it is an integral part of their job.

Convince your employees to find ways to do things better. Quicker. Smarter.

Have meetings about potential avenues of business, ensuring that your team feels part and parcel of the process. Make sure that personnel are constantly introduced to interesting ideas and encouraged towards collaboration, whether in the office or through social media. Collaboration is an effective tool in the sharing and development of new theories. Creating a collaborative atmosphere will not only inspire innovation but also cultivate a stimulating environment, as Margaret Heffernan, business journalist and TED speaker, eloquently said, “For good ideas and true innovation you need human interaction, conflict, argument and debate.”

Be experimental

Google is always top of the list when it comes to exceptional and groundbreaking ideas, and this is for good reason. Take the example of the Google Art Project launched in 2011. Developed because of Google’s ‘20% policy,’ where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on any ideas/code/project that they would like. The Google Art Project allows the user to digitally walk through museums and art galleries, viewing spectacular pieces up close, to the point where you can actually see the brush strokes. This entire project was developed and brought to fruition because Google realises the importance of giving employees the time and space to invent.

However, not every idea that comes out of a pioneering office space will be worthy of the next big product. But, most will have some form of merit; maybe it can be adapted or could form the basis of something in the future. If your employees spend the time and have the confidence to come forward with a concept, then it is crucial for you to take the time to consider it.

Additionally, there has to be the confidence from the key decision makers to take risks; advancing your company can’t be achieved by playing it safe. As Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab stated:

“The thing that actually unlocks human potential is when people feel they have control over their own destiny and they can make a killing if they really succeed on their wild bet.”[1]

However, a wild bet will only work if there is a strong culture of support from every person and department: from finance to marketing. With everybody pulling together to make innovation a worthwhile venture and productive notion.

Training is essential

Not everyone is innately creative, and not everyone thrives off the bat in an inventive setting. Organisations need to be supportive of their staff and provide the right incentives and training to help develop their strengths. If an employee feels that they have the ability to be original then this will give them the self-assurance to innovate, and you never know what type of left field thinking will come out. Training and motivation are key to growing your employees with an innovative mindset being the same as any skill. It has to be learnt and honed.

So, you need to lay the groundwork. Lead from the front and build a groundbreaking work culture. Encourage your staff to be bold and perhaps, yes, a little rebellious in their thinking, for as Vivek Wadhwa, an American technology entrepreneur, comments, “A key ingredient in innovation is the ability to challenge authority and break rules.” Give them an innovation mission. Chances are that something beautifully unexpected just might happen.

[1] http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-big-companies-can-innovate

5 proven methods to create a happier employee and more efficient work place

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Everyone knows that a content employee equals a productive employee; in fact, research quantifies this at a substantial 12%[i]. But the question remains, how does one actually achieve this? Here are our five top tips that you can implement overnight, which will help create a lasting impact on your office culture. 1. Socialising

On average we spend 2,000 hours a year in the office. This is a major chunk of your life spent in the same place with the same people. So why not allocate time at work to encourage your employees to let their hair down? Celebrate birthdays or have a party for no reason at all. Just because. According to research an employee with close friends in the same company is 7 times more engaged with their work.[ii] This socialization does not even have to be limited to the office place. A concert or picnic after hours will allow people the chance to interact away from their cubicles. Letting their colleagues see a different side to them.

2. Health

77%[iii] of employees state that health and wellness directly affect their working culture. It leads to increased confidence and a sense of security. This is a simple step employers can take, by providing a comprehensive health insurance package, ensuring that employees are taken care of. Why not go above and beyond to make your employees truly happy, by offering a wellness program or gym membership? Get those endorphins racing or find your Zen and soon you will see productivity grow. 3. Mentoring and coaching

A conversation takes place between a CEO and the CFO:

“CFO: what happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?

CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

Contrary to popular belief employees tend to have more interest in their job than just taking home a pay cheque. Providing opportunities for professional development are vital and help people to grow and develop their skillset. Not only are you investing in your people, the chances are they will be more loyal as they can see the future with you.

4. Avoid micromanagement

Do you long for the days when you were a child and your parents constantly told you to do your homework, tidy your room and eat your vegetables? Remember how much fun that was? Well it is the same with your employees; they hate a hovering boss. Giving your workers autonomy will make them feel trusted and appreciated. Empowering your employees by creating a clear and efficient management culture will give them the space they need to carry out tasks and complete work on time.

5. Respect your staff

The respectful treatment of employees ranks first in order of importance in the workplace.[iv] Respect is a broad term, but put simply it means treating someone how you would expect to be treated. Have a degree of patience; don’t create an environment of fear where people are concerned about losing their jobs and listen to people when they have ideas or suggestions. Adding a few simple adjustments and everyone will benefit which means it’s a win-win.

[i] http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-happiness/

[ii] http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-happiness/

[iii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/06/11/challenge-2013-linking-employee-wellness-morale-and-the-bottom-line/#28c81079b3db

[iv] http://humanresources.about.com/od/Employee-Engagement/a/keys-for-improving-employee-satisfaction-and-engagement.htm

Streamlining Souqalmal.com’s HR Processes

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Taking the hassle out of routine Souqalmal.com is a financial comparison website, that had over time outgrown its HR system. As part of a growing startup, the company didn’t have a system in place to help streamline all the employees HR issues. “A lot of manual work was involved, specifically the production of employee split reports. Apart from that, most problems related to tracking who's on leave and the number of days available to each employee – especially when the information was required urgently so employees could effectively manage their own personal leave plans.”, explains Lucy Bagatsing, the Office and HR Manager at Souqalmal.com. Three chief requirements were identified as vital in order to help in setting the right foundations for the company

1.Precise employee data tracking – Souqalmal.com required a suitable leave management system capable of tracking annual and sick leave; whereby the potential for human error would be reduced. 2.Smarter, automated management – time wastage and inefficiency was a significant concern due to manual data input. 3.Secure, paperless filing and storage of employee files – the collection of employee documents and completion of routine HR tasks was proving to be a time-consuming hassle.

Since centralizing their HR processes through Beneple’s integrated HR platform in January 2016, Souqalmal.com has consolidated all employees’data into one comprehensive system; allowing for greater openness and convenience by giving both management and employees easy access to key information crucial to planning their calendars. The user-friendliness enables employees to input their own data - documents and requests for annual leave; freeing up HR managers to prioritize more pressing issues. Ms. Bagatsing estimates that both management and employees interact with the platform at least 3 times per week and due to the way the system is set up employees can view all the information that pertains to them; whilst giving a complete overview to the Souqalmal.com’s appointed administrator.

The calendar’s “important dates tracker” on Beneple’s dashboard is the most popular feature. Overviews of weekly/monthly/annual personal and team schedules can be seen at a glance enabling smoother coordination. The dashboard’s intuitive design and ability to generate graphical data representations with stored data- such as sick leave, holidays, expiring documents and much more - allows management crucial insight into daily administrative workings.

Beneple has provided a straightforward, user-friendly HR platform and it has massively improved our paperwork processing time. [It has had] a huge positive impact in terms of greater information transparency with employees…and [the platform] is efficient enough for employees to input their own personal details.”

How To Advance Your Business With A Successful Human Resource Information System

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Human Resource technology in today’s faced paced environment has migrated towards web-based services that include online recruiting services, digital training, employee self-service (ESS), online applicant testing and online benefits management. Most businesses now make use of HR portals that offer a variety of services and provide the ease of a ‘one point of contact’ approach.

Here are our top 4 reasons to invest in HRIS:

#1 HRIS Technology advances your business

Adding a new digital function to an HR system provides an opportunity to re-examine the overall functionality of the business. Cycle-time processes are reduced which leads to a more streamlined decision making process within the organisation. Efficiency is maximised due to the one point of contact system which offers time saving benefits and thus reduced cost per transaction fees.

Integrated HR processes are more efficient. While technology cannot be seen as the solution to all problems, they certainly add several benefits to an organisation. Most firms report heightened productivity and enjoy increased profitability through improved HR processes.

#2 HRIS is employee focussed

While HRIS can be used for its HR compliance and reporting tool capacities, the system is best optimised when used to delegate HR transactions and data maintenance to employees. While certain team members may be resistant to switching to a digitally based department, it is generally an easy process as in today’s world where most employees are online-savvy and enjoy shopping their favourite e-commerce sites, downloading apps, completing bank transactions online or even making a dinner reservation online.

Service management of the HRIS system can provide the same level of ease and simplicity for your employees 24/7 from their mobile devices or computers. The HRIS system offers employees complete transparency of all HR processes which leads to a heightened sense of employee understanding and an increase in fairness and overall job satisfaction.

#3 HRIS and employee performance management

Digital employee performance monitoring forms a valuable part of the performance management system. Employees should however be informed in advance and briefed in full about which set of criteria will be monitored. By communicating openly with employees, and setting clear deliverables, the system has led to improved performance and improved performance of the organisation.

#4 HRIS and data analytics

Since the implementation of HRIS, the HR industry has been able to answer a new set of criteria; as a result of the systems’ ability to capture a new set of data. For HR personnel, HRIS systems provides immediate and optimised results to questions related to long-term performance and staff retention.

The new HRIS systems fully support HR management by providing immediate access to data. In years gone by, HR data was not readily available which proved difficult to extract an accurate answer to questions posed by Executive Management.

Business Hacks: 5 Quick Steps for A Fail-Proof Business

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“You are the captain of your own ship, the master of your own destiny.”When setting up our businesses for the first time, we all start out like superheroes, ready to conquer the world! But then, like the movie Titanic, disaster strikes. We hit the nearest unanticipated iceberg in the distance.

In no time at all, our business takes a nose dive. Sounding familiar?

Statistically, 8 out of 10 companies starting out fail at first. The question is, is there a way to ensure success in the future? Our results-orientated SME service provider teams offer risk analysis and expert advice that guards your business against future failure.

Here are the top 5 steps that you can implement to ensure a successful business venture:

#1 Planning is key

Many small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) face greater levels of uncertainty and fail to spend adequate energy on developing strategic business plans. They fail to outline future plans that guard against potential devastation. Even though an alarming 50% of all start-up businesses fall flat within the first 5 years of existence, many business owners sidestep the planning phase and find it unnecessary to implement. Comprehensive business planning has a proven record of long-term business success. Rule 1 for success: plan, plan, and plan again.

#2 Location dictation

As we know, in Dubai location is paramount. Accessibility equals convenience simply put. Some may go as far as saying that one’s physical location plays a pivotal role in the company’s overall growth and operational systems. Rule 2: when choosing your location consider your customers, logistical company equipment needs and employee satisfaction.

#3 Financial resources

Digging deep into the pockets has for centuries been the number one defeat of all newly instated businesses. An additional reason linked to insufficient business funds is the inability to strategize a sustainable finance plan. Ensuring sufficient capital that is essential for the survival and prosperity of your business is a fundamental element to the overall longevity of your business. As a general rule, keep your revenue generation plan simple and realistic. In most cases, a period of two years is anticipated before your business can begin to recover from the initial set up costs. Monitor your expenses closely and set up credit facilities with your suppliers. A contingency plan is imperative. Safeguard your business with a thorough plan that will not leave you exposed to the unexpected.

#4 In house skills

Seek out trustworthy individuals who are capable of leading your team to victory. Often times, poor leadership and a lack of management skills can be detrimental to a business. Ensure that all operations within your business have timeous and strategic order. By recognising your own shortfalls and opt for a short course or appoint a skilled individual to support your weakness. Good leadership is like the like that shines upon every aspect of your business.

# 5 Ask yourself what problem your product solves

Always keep in mind the problem that your business is solving in the community and region. Hold onto these values tightly and you will reap the rewards you deserve. Like so many others who have tried and tried again, we encourage you to wise up and make some simple changes. After carrying out these simple and fail-proof steps, your business will be given the fighting chance it deserves. Let the past be the past and remove all the icebergs in your way. Go on and establish your risk free future; exactly as you imagine it to be. It is possible.

4 Keys to Leveraging HRIS Technology

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The 4 key benefits of implementing a successful Human Resource Information System: Today’s HR technology is moving rapidly to web- based systems to deliver data and services such as employee self-service (ESS), online recruiting, web-based training, online applicant testing and online benefits management. The majority of organizations now support HR portals, which provide one point of contact for a range of HR services. The underlining HR processes need to align to the HRIS system. Keys to pairing powerful technology with solid HR processes include the following:

1. Technology can change your HR process, for the better

Adding a new or additional function to the HR process creates an opportunity to re-evaluate the overall HR functionality of the organization. A typical scenario is HR workflow technology can reduce the cycle time of processes and streamline decision- making. Fewer people in the process usually means greater efficiency and lowered cost per transaction. Very often, processes built into HR vendor offerings are more efficient than an organization’s existing HR processes. Although it may be tempting to view technology as the solution to an organization’s problems, most firms will see more productivity and profitability gains by seizing the opportunity to improve HR processes.

2. Make your HR process employee central

Organizations using HRIS to delegate HR transactions and data maintenance to employees will outperform those using these systems solely as an HR compliance or reporting tool. Asking employees to use an online HR portal they can access at work, home, or wherever they may be could potentially be a more difficult concept for you to imagine than it is for them. After all, they use a portal every time they order something from their favorite e-commerce site, download an app to their smartphones and tablets, do their banking online, or even make a dinner reservation.

Completing those tasks is so easy, and service management can enable you to provide the same simplicity and level of service to employees 24/7 from their computers and mobile devices. Employees have become data consumers in their non-work lives and want that same level of access and control in their work lives. Giving employees access to their information increases the transparency of HR processes and helps employees better understand the role HR plays in the organization. Increasing employees’ perception of control over their information can also lead to an increased sense of fairness and job satisfaction.

3. Explain what is employee performance management?

Computer- based performance monitoring can be a valuable component of a performance management system, but it is important to inform employees about the aspects of performance being monitored and the reasons they are being monitored. Research has shown that communicating with employees in this way leads to increased acceptance of monitoring and to improved performance.

4. Data Analytics the future of HR.

The implementation of HRIS lets HR answer new questions with newly available data. Forward-looking organizations can use these data to ask and answer basic questions like: “What information on job applications predicts long-term performance and retention?” HR managers commonly report that one of the most dramatic effects of third-generation HR systems is the ability to analyze HR data and respond quickly and accurately to questions from Executive management.

How to nurture ‘social and cultural intelligence’ in cosmopolitan Dubai

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The cosmopolitan city of Dubai is made up of a diverse group of ethnic cultures. While culture and heritage plays a large role in employee diversity, additional points of difference include gender, age, personality types, and cognitive ability. Points of cultural difference between employees are oftentimes viewed in a challenging light; however, these challenges can be utilized to full advantage and embraced as a benefit towards increased productivity, acquiring new languages, enlightened cultural understanding, and an opportunity to solve difficult problems in a new manner. Urbanization paved the way towards the fundamental need to employ a multicultural team. In the UAE, a diverse workforce has led to substantial increased financial development. Research figures unveil that companies who include mixed cultures in their workforce are 35% more likely to show fiscal returns that are over and above national industry averages. Success however, is determined by the strategic approach by which the company opts to integrate cultural diversity.

Common cultural integration challenges include:

#1 Mutual respect and attitude

In order to create effective communication between employees from various backgrounds and career levels, a sense of individuality needs to be fostered in the workplace. Mutual respect for one another’s differences needs to be established that is respectful of all genders, ethnic backgrounds, cultural practices and lifestyle. From top tier to bottom tier in employee hierarchy, the communication method needs to be implemented for optimal success.

#2 Adaptability

Our natural inclination is to be resistant to change. One of the biggest reasons why employees resist change in the workplace is due to poor management of change. While some employees are more open to change, others are highly resistant. A good tip is to focus on maintaining open communication channels with all employees in order to prepare them for future developments. In this way, there will be no surprises, and employees will be fully prepared for company adjustments.

#3 Implement a diverse workplace policy

Managers and HR professionals are often times most challenged by the implementation of diversity workplace policies. However, individual employee assessments, adequate data analysis and research data can provide comprehensive understanding into cultural intelligence difficulties that management may endure.

In today’s modern society, HR professionals and senior management are required to embrace cultural diversity and offer innovation methodologies that embrace cultural differences between employees, thus creating an effective and solution driven workforce.

Here are a few top solutions to improving cultural diversity in the workplace:

#1 The power of inclusion

Engaging employees at all levels on of the best methods utilized. It is best to approach cultural diversity from both a top-down and bottom-up strategy whereby all employees are engaged and benefit one way or another.

#2 Adopt an open-door policy

Encourage employees to interact with one another through a variety of activities within the organization. By allowing employees to feel comfortable expressing their opinions freely, a positive and inspirational corporate attitude is developed.

#3 Include cultural development exercises

Host regular in-house workshops that stimulate cultural understanding. Employees will be provided an opportunity for personal growth and improved employee relations with management and fellow colleagues.

#4 Request feedback

By conducting employee surveys, management will gain valuable understanding of employee expectations which allows leadership to be fully equipped to develop strategic advancements within the company.

Empowering employees and open communication channels have been linked with the top two success factors within the UAE’s work space. By developing a positive corporate attitude and encouraging mutual respect across a wide spectrum of cultures, it is proven that businesses goals will sooner be reached.