Building the workplace of tomorrow

July 26, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

A captain is only as good as their soldiers. A leader is as good as their team. If that’s true, how are some of the great names in retail creating “rockstars” and “superstars” within their businesses and nurturing those who will comprise the workforce of tomorrow. That was the theme of a session at IMAGES RetailME’s THINK! I CAN! conference – here are a few snippets.

A recent Michael Page survey indicated that 50% of employees across the UAE are actively looking for new jobs, shared session moderator Jonathan Lavender, Head of People, Process & Organisational Design, Sharaf Retail Group. And for the first time, the number one reason why people are looking at changing their job is for work-life balance and company culture. So, how are companies planning to address this issue, he asked.

“I’m not surprised that a lot of people are leaving organisations because of well-being and company culture because I think COVID was a great reality check that there is more to life than work,” shared Sabahatt Habib, Senior Director of People, The Giving Movement. “That’s why people are so focused on well-being and the company culture. Now what we do at The Giving Movement – ‘humanity in motion’ is in our DNA and we are big on transparency because it’s the surprises that tend to have a negative impact on company culture. We’ve also made a clear commitment that more than 5% of our workforce will include people of determination.”

Adding on, Kunal Wadhwani, CHRO, Choithrams Group said that his company is working to ensure generational inclusivity to welcome new generations of talent. “As a retail and distribution company with 73% of our workforce being blue collar shop floor level workforce, over the past few years we’ve worked on certain dimensions that are primarily associated with alignment of our people’s personal goals and how they align with our organisational goals. From the perspective of fairness, we’re working on compensation management, pay equity ratios within the organisation and from diversity perspective, we are working on gender gap management.”

“Culture is in my title and that’s how important company culture is for us,” stated Emma Davies, Chief Culture and People Excellence Officer, Masafi. “Many moons ago, I once made the mistake of jumping jobs for money over culture. Today, when I guide people, I always emphasise that they should never jump jobs for money. What they should opt for is a great manager, a business that cares and a safe space.”

“I’m a firm believer that culture has a dollar value,” observed Damian Brown, Group Head of Talent Acquisition, Chalhoub Group. “If we’ve the right culture, people will think many times over before leaving for a few thousands extra. In fact, we’ve had several cases where people left and rejoined because they realised what a big difference a company’s culture makes. Even simple things like being able to step out during the workday for school run makes a big difference. Flexibility, wellbeing, fairness are all key components of a company culture. And I also think companies today must be developers of great talents and let them grow and move on, if needed, when the time comes.”

At this point, Habib shared an interesting policy followed by The Giving Movement. “We sign emotional contracts every year, which reaffirms commitments made between the employer and the employee. It’s quite simple and transparent: if you deliver your end of the bargain, I’ll deliver my end of the bargain. And I’m blessed to be in an organisation where leaders are very innovative and futuristic.”

Similarly, within Wadhwani’s organisation sharing ways to operate more sustainably is part of an employee’s KRA and KPI.

On her part, Davies said how her organisation is focused on developing people for new roles based on their attitude in addition to their skills.

“We’ve created a ‘women in leadership’ programme with an aim to develop women in our Group to take up more leadership positions,” Brown concluded.

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