Emirati employees' motivation to work is imperative to maintain the country's success.
We cannot focus solely on reaching Emiratisation quota targets while overlooking concerns that are just as vital, such as slow performance by employees who are unmotivated, which costs organisations worldwide millions of dollars every year.
This lack of motivation is often the result of feeling unappreciated. Fatima Saeed, an Emirati friend of mine, illustrates this.
Fatima graduated nine years ago as one of the top students in her class, and a government organisation hired her on the spot. Fast forward to the present day, and Fatima has lost her energetic drive and motivation.
She comes in to work late, does only what she is asked to do, and files no complaints even when she has every right to do so. It really hurt me to see an intelligent Emirati's talents go to waste, so I asked her what went wrong.
She blamed her organisation for not caring about Emiratis' development and told me she felt unappreciated, no matter how much work she put into a project, and she complained about management's lack of communication to staff about the company's development and undertakings.
"My manager does not talk to us about the company's direction," Fatima said. "I have to find out from the news or through my friends. If managers don't feel we're important enough to know about what's going on, why should I put in extra effort?"
She was not the only one in her company who felt this way. Most of her Emirati colleagues face similar situations.
"Many of our company's managers are non-Emiratis, and the ones we deal with couldn't care less about Emiratis' development," Fatima said. "My Emirati colleagues stopped putting out an effort and are satisfied with a good pay cheque at the end of the month."
Many might wonder why Fatima would not switch to a new organisation where she would be more appreciated. But she got used to doing little work over the years and said she did not see herself being productive again.
The first step to getting employees excited about the company is to sell them on its future plans and the importance of their role in fulfilling them. If this were done, employees would contribute with enthusiasm, generate their own ideas and feel a sense of togetherness, says CV Harquail, the author of the blog authenticorganizations.com.
Employees need to have a sense of how their roles are interwoven with their organisation's larger goals if managers expect them to put in the required effort. Technology has made it easier than ever for management to do so, allowing them to engage directly with their employees through emails, Facebook, Twitter and even texting.
No one likes to work without feeling the organisation appreciates what they do. Managers should give the appropriate amount of encouragement to each team member. A quick "good job" is sometimes all an employee needs to feel motivated.
Another good way to enhance a company's performance and possibly expand it is to ask employees their opinions. Holding regular group meetings with employees is an excellent way to brainstorm new ideas about subjects such as marketing new products or ways to overcome new challenges. As a result, employees will feel thrilled that their opinions matter.
This issue is a pressing one that should be addressed just like Emiratisation. Why? Because doing nothing is similar to investing in a bad business that barely returns any profit at the end of the year.
Employees' lack of performance and tardiness are signs of impending failure, and in the long run such behaviour will cost the government and companies millions of dirhams. How do we expect Emirati employees to develop our country when they do not feel like working?
We know it is important to attract and increase the number of Emirati employees in the workforce, and it is equally important not to overlook their performances, include them in long-term career development plans, and make sure their concerns are heard.
Manar Al Hinai is an Emirati fashion designer and writer. She can be followed on Twitter @manar_alhinai