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Six talent management challenges facing the Middle East

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To complete globally, businesses in the Middle East must comprehend the talent challenges facing leaders worldwide, Fariha Salahuddin VP at GSK Healthcare, outlines six issues you'll need to address.

1. Flatter structures

Hierarchy is important in the Middle East, with job titles such as president and senior vice president hugely significant to individuals both within and outside an organisation. However, the future workforce cares less about titles and authority, and more about collaboration on projects. 

In the past 25 years, a quarter of companies have moved towards flatter structures. Within GSK’s consumer healthcare business, we have removed management layers in line with external benchmarking in the industry. This trend will require leaders to adopt a different style of influencing and communication, and employees to rethink their career development.


2. Technological and digital convergence

A recent report by the University of Oxford predicts that we will lose half our workforce to artificial intelligence by 2030. This will impact heavily on low-skilled jobs, with an example being Sheikh Mohammed’s initiative to make a quarter of all transportation trips in Dubai driverless by 2030. 

At GSK, we took the bold decision to stop payments to healthcare professionals in 2014, leveraging digital platforms to transfer knowledge to our customers and doctors instead. As the first in our industry to do so, we had to work hard on defining the capabilities we needed from our team. The key is to develop people continuously, equipping them with new skills.


3. Transparency

Technological advances mean more access to information for all, but especially for employees, so leaders will have to be more open and authentic when communicating. Instead, of today’s ‘parent-child’ relationship, the future workforce will want ‘adult-adult’ communication.

4. Global workforce

Cities are becoming bigger, global hubs and competition is intensifying for these highly localised markets. Businesses must fine-tune their radars for these markets, while providing a stable environment for growth. The Middle East is well-placed to nurture this global workforce.

5. Diversity and inclusion

Our best decisions are made when we embrace diverse views. The next generation of leaders will be required to engage diverse and highly individualised teams. Create the right conditions for people to perform with autonomy.

6. Work/life balance

Employees now experience a wide range of career and life options, so make sure you are tuned into each employee’s individual requirements and offer work perks such as complimentary food and game areas that blur the line between work and social life. 

There will be a rise in portfolio working and freelancers, so you’ll need to examine your talent attraction strategies and structures. Create a sense of community through an authentic culture.

Fariha Salahuddin

By Fariha Salahuddin

VP global talent business lead, GSK Healthcare. Fariha has 17 years of experience in pharma, fast-moving consumer goods and banking, working in sales, customer service, and HR roles in international markets.

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