View from the Chair - Changes in the Workplace

Date: Wed, 21 Aug, 2019

View from the Chair - Changes in the Workplace

“Always treat your employees exactly as you would like them to treat your best customers” Stephen R. Covey.

Progressive changes are taking place in how companies engage with their employees. Speaking to our members here in the UAE, we know that flexible working options are very much on their agendas in order to attract and retain the highest quality of staff and we have been following the debates in UK Parliament on flexible working, led by MP Helen Whately. 

Ms Whately introduced a flexible working bill last month with the aim of closing the gender pay gap, assisting families with childcare arrangements and helping businesses to retain staff in the UK. A recent CBI report found that just one in 10 job listings mention flexible working and Ms Whately’s intention is that all jobs – where feasible – are offered on a flexible working arrangement option, removing the need for the individual to raise a request. The front page of the UK tabloids are boasting a rise in employment figures to include more mothers returning to work from extended maternity at the same time as sharing a rise in unemployment figures. Whichever way you look at it, there is a focus on employment in the UK! 

The BBG has always been very pro-flexible working and sees the benefit of a dynamic workforce. Many of our key stakeholders and board-level influencers are volunteers and provide their expertise and time around their own commitments. We know that this outlook is shared with some of our members, where it is possible, and foresee more taking on this approach in the future. 

Flexible working is shown to help reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and enhance employee engagement and loyalty. This then can attract a wider pool of applicants, while working to retain the experienced and skilled staff already there. In turn, this positive ambience leads to greater productivity, a healthier and happier workforce and then follows an attractive brand recognition and a propensity for winning more business! 

The UAE is also seeing an opportunity to encourage a new demographic into employment. As of July this year, females who meet the minimum salary requirement, not just females working in select professions, may now sponsor their male relatives to live in the UAE.  A major change to this initiative is the ability for the male relative to gain employment under this sponsorship, which was not previously permitted.  Therefore, husbands who are sponsored by their wife now have the option to work in the UAE, provided they can obtain an NOC (no objection certificate) from their wife.  We are keen to reach out to UK expats who will be in this new position and support them in their return to work through networking opportunities and access to our business directory. 

We will continue to observe these advances in both the UK and the UAE and are really interested to know how our members will respond. Our networking and thought leadership event schedule can be adjusted to focus on areas of great interest such as this and we are open to considerations put forward by our members and key stakeholders to better serve our membership and the changing world around us. In addition, we are always keen to hear from our members for commentary around topics that we raise or that you would like to see raised. If you would like to feature or be interviewed as part of our Guest Articles, please contact our Marketing Manager Katy Holmes (

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