Employers 'should do more to retain female Emirati staff', study finds

ABU DHABI // Employers must work harder to retain female Emirati staff and allow them more room for career progression, according to new research. Turnover and staff retention is a sticking point when it comes to women in the workplace, said Dr Fauzia Jabeen, associate professor of management at Abu Dhabi University College of Business. […]

ABU DHABI // Employers must work harder to retain female Emirati staff and allow them more room for career progression, according to new research.

Turnover and staff retention is a sticking point when it comes to women in the workplace, said Dr Fauzia Jabeen, associate professor of management at Abu Dhabi University College of Business.

She and Dr Heather Friesen, the university’s director of institutional research and effectiveness, surveyed more than 300 women across 12 public-sector organisations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for their study.

“Emirati women are very keen to learn and enhance their professional skills,” Dr Jabeen said.

“They are very interested in career progression, and can become disengaged if their organisation does not provide them the opportunity to develop their professional skills.

“Female employees also desire flexible options that will help them to balance family and work commitments.”

It is believed that unemployment among Emirati women is as high as 28 per cent, compared with 8 per cent for men – a figure that is “considerably high”, said Dr Jabeen.

Eighty-nine per cent of working Emirati women are employed at public-sector organisations.

A report on 17 ministries and 18 federal entities found that out of 1,400 cases of employee turnover, 64 per cent of those who resigned from their roles were women, Dr Jabeen said.

The research highlighted the changing values of the female workforce, their demand for international working standards and their need for more than just financial compensation, she said.

“This research confirms that financial benefits do not constitute the sole, or even primary, motivation for Emirati women,” Dr Jabeen said.

“The reason may be attributed to the lack of organised career development programmes in the UAE public sector.

“Career development involves various alternatives such as developing abilities, preserving current skills and getting ready for the future, ahead of simply receiving promotions.”

More flexible working hours would also help women, the research suggested.

“The UAE Government and policymakers may also address the conflicting demands of family and work life by enhancing flexible scheduling opportunities and other initiatives to help female employees, which will in turn reduce turnover intention,” she said.

One of the women surveyed, a senior telecoms analyst from Abu Dhabi, agreed.

The 33-year-old is studying part-time for a master’s in business administration, after being employed for 10 years.

Women in her field are given in-house child care and she has felt supported in her career growth, but she suggested that government entities should offer married women an option to choose to work fewer hours for less pay.

Balancing work with other obligations is difficult for the typical working woman. But the situation is improving, with more services, such as health insurance, education assistance for children and nurseries at work.

“It is much better than 15 years ago,” she said.

Co-researcher Dr Friesen said understanding Emirati women’s experiences were vital for Emiratisation.

“The more we understand the factors that influence Emirati employees’ decisions to either stay or leave an organisation will help to support the Emiratisation strategy,” she said.

“Emirati women, like employees everywhere, want to be challenged in their roles.”

Dr Kilani Ghoudi of UAE University, the project’s statistician, said that more research was needed to promote Emiratisation among women.

“One has to extend the study to different work categories, private sector, different emirates, before judging the impact on Emiratisation.”

mswan@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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