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UAE Firms Adopt ‘Flexi-Timing’ to Retain ‘Valued’ Employees


Middle East : 12 October 2012

Source: Emirates 24|7

Companies make way for employees’ work-life balance to keep them motivated

Anjana Z (name changed), went through a very rough patch and thought it was impossible for her to retain her job. “I was going through a divorce and was a total emotional wreck. I could not make it to work many days and handed over my resignation letter to my boss. However, he sat me down and asked me to stay back for some days and try managing work from home.

“I tried to juggle everything – work, home and all my marriage problems. It was difficult but I managed and am very grateful to my company and immediate boss who helped me through these trying times. I don’t think I will ever leave this job because they stuck by me when I needed them the most,” she told ‘Emirates 24|7′ on the condition of anonymity.

There are many employees like Anjana, who believe that companies are now breaking away from the very rigid leave structure. Problems related to childcare and personal matters can increase stress levels of employees, which can reduce their performance at work. Forward looking companies are now adapting to the problems their employees face and are evolving their leave structure, breaking away from the normal annual and sick leave.

“I have a baby and there are days when I can’t go to work as she’s sick. I’m very fortunate to be in a company that lets me work from home. They understand and it’s probably why it’s called one of the most mother-friendly companies in the world,” said a senior account working for an multinational IT company, without wishing to reveal her identity.

The policy of offering such leave is very company specific and there is no blanket rule that applies to all, say experts. “The UAE law provides for specific rules that all companies follow, and these rules anyway support the employees in pregnancy, delivery or sickness.

Depending on the culture of the company, support can be provided in challenging times to an employee as well, however, everything is set within limits of tolerance. I am sure a balance is found in most – if not, all companies between the human factor, the law provisions and the effective operation of the company,” Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director at Stanton Chase told Emirates 24|7.

Agrees Ahmad Turani, Business Development Executive at Bayt.com. “All companies are legally required to stick to their country’s labour law that includes annual leave, sick leave, etc.

However, each company has its own internal regulations and policies that complement the basic labour law. While some do offer various types of leaves to their employees as part of their benefits package, some others don’t and offer instead – in some cases – a higher salary.

All this highly depends on the company in question,” he explained to this website.

According to Toby Simpson, Managing Director at The Gulf Recruitment Group, “organisations that demonstrate high rates of sick leave tend to have more of a weakness in business culture than policy and structure. You can create policies that make it harder to take a sick day, but more often than not if workers don’t want to be there they will find a way to circumvent even the strictest rules. Employees that are engaged, valued and motivated will tend to ignore the odd sniffle if they feel their work is valued and they care about their contribution to their employer.”

However, there are many employees who believe that they cannot strike a right balance between work and personal life, leading to stress.

“[Our] work-life balance poll clearly showed that 26.9 per cent of employees believe that their poor work-life balance has jeopardised both their mental health and happiness, and a staggering 64.8 per cent would even accept a pay cut in order to have more free time on their job. In fact, 43.3 per cent of Mena professionals do not consider that they have built a successful work-life balance and 88.3 per cent will consider changing jobs in order to improve their work-life balance.

This leads to the conclusion that employers in the region should potentially consider the option of offering their employees a more flexible schedule or an increased number of paid leave days, etc., to motivate and retain them,” added Turani.

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