Technology and Human Resources in Middle East

HR & technology

Three factors have been changing the human resources field in the Arab region:

  •  The surplus of those in technical fields (i.e., engineering, medicine, accounting)
  •  The technology and data revolution
  •  The demographic bulge, as people under 35 are the majority in each Arab country.

Technology and HR

Many companies are now creating jobs in digital marketing, especially in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, hoping to attract top talent. The youth bulge and this digital revolution are leading to different expectations about “work” and human resources. The digital revolution is already replacing business models in the Arab region.

The following are pointers about the revolving door between human resources and technology, unequivocally indicating that technology job functions (digital marketing, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, to name a few) are replacing traditional job functions, and companies have not been quick to react. Moreover, HR managers should not equate technology with efficiency.


“What this indicates is that technology and AI, to name a few, are replacing traditional job functions!”


Akhtaboot and Bayt are the leading recruitment companies in the Arab region, and digital marketing jobs have been rising in the past two or three years. Akhtaboot launched in 2007 and has since grown to become part and parcel of ZenHR Solutions. ZenHR Solutions is a complete HR Software Solutions platform that provides value across all stages of the human resource cycle, from “Acquire” to “Retire.” ZenHR Solutions offer a full array of HR software products starting with:

  • Career Connect, Akhtaboot’s branded career page solution,
  •  Cavall, the global Applicant Tracking System (ATS),
  • Testello, the UK-based testing solutions provider, and
  • Its flagship product ZenHR, Akhtaboot’s Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

ZenHRZenHR also provides premium recruitment services through Akhtaboot, one of MENA’s recruitment sites with the most name recognition. ZenHR Solutions has three offices, in Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and KSA. Besides technology job functions, health and renewable energy are the new industries, according to Mr. Ashraf Mraybeh, Country Manager of Akhtaboot. Health encompasses pharmaceuticals, life sciences, biotechnology, healthcare equipment, and others. Technology, health, and renewable energy are now the leading industries in recruitment.


“Technology, health, and renewable energy are now the leading industries in recruitment,”


 

Technology jobs
healthcare
renewable energy

Given the technology permeation of everything, the current generation of employees and job-hunters has different expectations and aspirations from their parents’ generation. Mraybeh delineated these ideals as ones that companies should aspire to or implement in order to attract top talent:


1. Employee retention

2. Cultivating a value-driven corporate culture
3. Focusing on the Employee Experience


These ideals are for new companies seeking not to simply find new talent, but to also retain it and capitalize on it. Corporate employment sometimes has contract employees or high turn-over. Corporate leaders and CEOs sometimes also do not cultivate a positive, supportive work environment, for countless reasons. This can be through low wages, what employees can perceive as little or no acknowledgment of their work and good will, or no or few opportunities for self-enhancement and growth. In such cases, employees, especially hard-working and talented ones, may lose motivation to work and, thus, leave a company.

The latest trends are:

Cultivating a Value-Focused Culture

It means flexibility and accommodating the different workstyles and aspirations of today’s workforce. Employees can deliver value, if not added value, in countless forms and arrangements. This can mean remote workers, allowing flexible hours, casual clothing, and other forms. In today’s global business environment, change is the only constant, so companies need to harness it, as opposed try to resist it.

The “Employee Experience”

This is the whole journey of the employee and all their touch points with a company. It becomes a symbiotic relationship between a company and employee—a great EE can make for employee longevity and bolster a company’s reputation. So, the more positive and inviting a company’s touch points are, the better it is for EE.

employee experience cceafe
value driven company culture x
Investment Banking

So innovative companies now need to accommodate a generation’s diverging expectations and their conditions for their work productivity and loyalty. It is much more than simply “applying online,” having a “fancy” website, or launching a smart-phone application. This is true for most companies in the Middle East, especially those that harness digital marketing, those in financial technology((fintech), and young companies.

different generations at work x

ZenHR services


“Companies faced a lot of difficulties in finding and hiring candidates prior to online recruitment websites such as Akhtaboot. Some of the reasons for companies to use online recruitment websites include:

• The ability to find better-quality, more tech-savvy candidates,
• the friendliness of those portals as they offer screening and filtration tools,
• access to a bigger, more diverse talent pool, and
• most importantly: cost effectiveness.”


cost effectiveAkhtaboot currently serves as a career network for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with branches in Dubai and Riyadh. It has seen exponential growth since its inception, and it is seeing a phenomenal increase in traffic and users with every passing day.

Trust Advisory secured a short interview with Akhtaboot in 2019.

Have companies been cognizant of digital marketing, data analytics, and other technology-based functions as integral to their profitability? For example, Akhtaboot is now posting more jobs in digital marketing. Is this part of a general and growing trend, or isolated?

Of course, digital transformation is happening on a scale and at a speed that most companies find both intimidating and promising. Companies are taking active steps to integrate digital technologies into their business models for the sole purpose of materially improving performance.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter equip companies with two-way communication with their internal and external stakeholders. They can also be used as a monitoring tool to keep a close eye on industry trends, customer feelings and feedback, and competitors.

“Providing job listings is no longer enough! Job boards such as Akhtaboot are making the most of all available digital channels so we can reach more relevant and quality job seekers. In a nutshell, we will go where our job seekers go,”

not enough anymore

What about Akhtaboot’s experience specifically? Are companies feeling that online applications and electronic services to them are helping them or not? What has been Akhtaboot’s experience dealing with and catering to companies’ HR needs as technology dependency increases?

By 2020, the MENA region will have to create 100 million jobs. This is indeed a major challenge to overcome, more so with the absence of an effective platform that links job seekers with employers and vice versa. Recognizing this missing link between employers and job seekers, Akhtaboot– in addition to other recruitment websites- stepped up to fill this gap. Our approach to tackling this challenge is to, first, identify employer’s most common recruitment aches and pains. We were able to narrow down those recruitment problems into 4 distinct areas:

unemployment

1. Filtering and sorting CVs take a lot of time and effort.

2. Irrelevant candidates almost always end up applying to advertised job openings.

3. Candidates end up not fitting in with the company culture.

4. Receiving applicants is easy; receiving qualified applicants is always a challenge.

With a user-friendly interface, superior searching functionality, and a charismatic brand, Akhtaboot covers the recruitment needs of over 5,000 registered employers – including international players such as Pepsi, Total, and Marriott Global. It’s worth mentioning that Akhtaboot is part of “ZenHR Solutions,” an HR Software Solution group that covers the entire HR value chain from the moment you “Acquire” the candidate to the day they “Retire.”

Pepsi
Marriot Global

What changes has Akhtaboot implemented to keep up with the rapidly changing labor market?

Meeting the growing demand for talent is all about truly hearing what job seekers are asking for. A major demand of job seekers is the need for greater flexibility in how, when, and where to do their jobs. ZenHR Solutions is considered one of the most sought-after workplaces in the MENA market due to its commitment to providing numerous perks and benefits to its employees, as well as its strong belief in the importance of women inclusion and diversity.

Here are some of top changes that we have made to cater to the needs of our employees:

1) The introduction of flextime to all employees
2) Extended maternity leave for our working moms
3) Part-time opportunities for working moms
4) Equal pay scale
5) Training opportunities
6) Paternity leave for male employees to help support their wives
7) The ability to work from home
8) An anti-harassment policy and shared it with all of our clients for their own use.

Outside human resources companies, companies have utilized technology but more for logistics and management. They indeed attempt to find better candidates but it does not always happen. It has become tempting to confine technology to the strictly logistical, administrative domains. Many companies, including major start-ups, now post their openings internally only since they have used technology to build huge databases of resumes with the concomitant keyword search. Thus, this simply minimizes the clutter for companies but does not necessarily facilitate finding the right candidates—the most pressing human resources need and goal.

Trust Advisory interviewed the HR Manager of a young IT company in Jordan that has been getting notice in the press.


“Recently, we have generations that are used to comfort. It’s not like the generations previously, from ’85 – ‘93. The rest have a different view. They come [to work] and want or expect everything to be ready. I feel this is the challenge. I can’t predict.

Even the cultural aspect, there might be a clash in the future. The new generation doesn’t search [for information], doesn’t read [sources, books, articles]. They find everything or expect to find it through their mobiles. They have become used to not exerting mental effort and / or can lose soft skills—negotiation, interaction. They can present well and be outgoing but cannot do regular, usual tasks. I remember interviewing candidates, for different positions, who were young so are very confident and outgoing, but when you give them one basic task, they don’t do it.”


Thus, the challenges that lie before the most productive integration of technology in human resources and companies are:

  • That technology is not a substitute for capability and experience.

“Young generations (born in 2000+) are completely dependent on technology and using
their mobile phones for everything. They have everything at their fingertips. Technology is
integrated in their lives but it’s not helping them do many things. Current generations are
barely recognizing the value of knowledge and experience, but future generations won’t. It
would be too late [for them]. Everything is ready and available [eliminating the need for
learning or searching],” the HR Manager said.

  • Technology does not enhance the productivity of an employee who is not productive in the 1st place or does not have high professional accomplishment in the 1st place.
  • Technology can diminish people’s social skills, such as negotiation, management, and teamwork.
  • Automation has eliminated clutter, paperwork, and other administrative tasks but has not always enhanced the human dimension.

In Closing

So, there are plenty of opportunities for managers to better integrate technology in human resource management:

  • Using technology to find the best candidates for their jobs, not simply to scan for keywords in resumes
  • Using technology to measure baseline-to-summative, quantifiable improvement in productivity
  • Using technology for corporate cultural fit.

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HR & technology