Something I think we all instinctively know but rarely reflect upon is what makes us feel happy. This is an important question especially when we face uncertain times either personally, or collectively as in the past 2 years. I am sure we would all like to feel happy about the New Year ahead.
It is a particularly important question when looked at from a corporate perspective, because one of our key goals is to create and sustain a happy workforce. Happy employees stay longer, our reputation as an employer of choice grows, we are able to attract the best people and to plan careers for more home-grown leaders, and the company overall is more stable in a turbulent market. As our survey results and market intelligence indicates, employment stability ranks as one of the most important attributes for jobseekers. As I have mentioned before, the way we do this is to promote our corporate values of empowerment, optimism, engagement, excellence and one team in all our people. These values will continue to underpin how we work in the future and form the basis of internal accountability to each other.
Though we have, to a large extent, gotten used to living with COVID, it is still a challenge for us as a business, and I want to applaud everybody who has worked so hard this past year to make sure that it has not undermined the quality of their work, or their overall contribution to Al Masaood. We are of course not out of the woods yet, but we feel we are now emerging from the defensive position we had to take in our initial response and beginning to expand the business again. For instance, our head count is now growing again in most parts of the Group as our business expands. We are also seeing expenditure increasing in general, at both the consumer and corporate levels within the UAE, with business activity increasing as confidence levels about the future regain momentum. This is being helped by a new wave of foreign investment targeting the UAE because of the positive way it has handled the pandemic. This includes international high net worth investors who are choosing the UAE as their permanent home and HQ location for their businesses.
Both as a response to the challenges of the past 2 years, as well as with an eye to our next 50 years, Al Masaood is undergoing a re-structuring exercise and exploring new business models. This was the main topic of our recent retreat for senior management with the theme of “Tajdeed” or renewal. Having a ‘renewal’ mindset enables us to keep up with the times and create a new chapter of growth. The 3-day session helped us to understand that for us to renew and change, we need to know how our customers are changing. But what does this mean for you?
First of all, it means that we all have a role to play in helping Al Masaood to evolve. The leaders of the business divisions understand that maintaining and strengthening their relationships with the corporate support departments is essential to meeting their strategic objectives. In the same manner, employees in corporate support departments need to further engage more deeply with the business units to deliver greater value so that we operate as one seamless unit. This also means increasingly spending more time in the business units with Operations staff. We have made good strides in implementing the business partner model, but more works needs to be done in supporting internal customers. We are increasingly seeing project teams that consist of members from operations and different corporate support departments working more closely as project teams without the traditional constraints of department boundaries. HR is increasingly seeking employees who can influence and build relationships of trust across departments since this has become a critical skill for success in the future of work. The more closely we work together, the better we can help deliver on business strategy and deliver value to Al Masaood.
Within this relationship we also have a duty to ensure that the Group meets its Emiratisation goals and requirements. We are a significant and growing beneficiary of government business, and we have a duty to make our contribution in this respect to the ‘Projects of the 50’ initiative in our manpower planning processes. We are committed to meeting a minimum Emiratisation rate of 10% of our total workforce within the next 5 years. We will work with all departments to help them identify roles for UAE nationals, but at the end of the day this will not be a choice. We will work with all GMs to set appropriate targets and request proactive support on this agenda as per the guidelines set by our visionary Directors.
Thank you for all your hard work across the group. I am truly proud of all your achievements, and I can truly say, today we are one of the regions most admired businesses. Al Masaood was awarded as the Best Employer brand by Employer Branding Awards and HRD Congress for a second year. Finally, I would like to wish you all and your families a happy, fulfilling, and successful New Year and success and prosperity in 2022.