The top Gulf HR trends for 2018

More than 50 per cent of HR professionals believe an emphasis on personal development, technology and other areas will be key to developing a dynamic workplace

Sponsored: Talent management, technology, engagement and employee wellbeing are the most important issue facing human resources (HR) and talent professionals in the Gulf this year, according to a recent survey.

The 2018 Top HR Trends Report, produced by the HR Summit and Expo, The Talent Enterprise and The HR Observer, showed a shift in attitudes among human resources staff to adapt to the changing workplace.

Among the findings of a poll of 1,200 people at the 2017 HR Summit and Expo in Dubai, was an increasing emphasis on activities including training, coaching and new recruitment practices as organisations seek to boost their human capital. This trend has seen an increasingly diverse selection of training courses made available in the region by companies like Informa, which offer programmes for human resource management and development.

Respondents also indicated there was growing usage of HR technology and people analytics to enhance decision making, with artificial intelligence in particular expected to be integrated into current technology systems this year.

As one HR professional noted “analytics endorse objective, unbiased, data-driven decisions, as opposed to subjective performance reviews”.

Engagement was deemed the third most important trend by those polled, identified by more than 150 participants, following research from Gallup in 2017 that indicated up to 85 per cent of employees in the Middle East were not engaged. Engagement is increasingly being seen as crucial to ensuring a productive and successful workplace in the region.

Meanwhile, the fourth most important trend was deemed to be employee wellbeing. Participants indicated that allocated budgets to ensure happy staff was an important investment in the workforce that could produce better results than pay rises or conventional incentives.

The future workforce

Looking forward, HR professionals believe a strongly bonded corporate team that promotes equality and diversity will be the future composition of the workforce.

This year in particular, survey respondents indicated would be the “year of millennial leadership”, which could give rise to a shift in current leadership practices as a result.

Other key trends identified by those in the industry included engagement and flexible working hours, in response to growing evidence that workers do not need to be tied to a conventional office.

There was also a realisation that recruiting Emirati nationals would be critical to diversifying workforces in the UAE in particular and strengthening cultural values.

Overall, HR professionals see positive changes occurring in their field this year, with a focus on talent management, technology, engagement and employee wellbeing expected to lead to a more fulfilled, engaged, happier and hopefully more productive corporate culture.

“HR can no longer be perceived rudimentary and hostile, rather, its importance should be elevated to the strategic level and decisions need to be made in collaboration with the department that manages the most important assets of the organisation – its people,” the report authors note.

Amid these changes, it is important for HR professionals not to forget their own personal development as they seek to take a more proactive role in their organisation’s growth.

Informa is currently offering a 25 per cent discount on HR training courses for the holy month of Ramadan in areas including audit, administration, metrics and analytics, workforce planning, and budgeting.

To download the 2018 Top HR Trends Report visit