Companies with engaged employees are more likely to weather financial storms - but just a quarter of UAE workers feels empowered, according to new research.
Workers' enthusiasm proves the key to customer loyalty
Studies conducted in the UAE by the global management consulting firm Gallup from 2009 to last year, and involving more than 15,500 people, established a link between employee engagement and profitability.
"The special thing we found about engagement is that it's predictive," said Ehssan Abdallah, a senior practice consultant at Gallup Consulting Middle East and Africa. "What we were able to see was that, especially during a crisis, organisations that have higher levels of engagement are the ones that are financially going to be better off thereon in."
The study found engaged employees tended to feel empowered - that they had not only the freedom to make decisions, but also "the time, training, materials, equipment, support and 'voice' to do so", said Ghassan Khoury, a managing consultant at Gallup Consulting Middle East and Africa.
However, the research found just one in four employees in the Emirates felt fully empowered.
"One of the key areas where we see low empowerment having a major effect is the UAE consumer retail industry," Mr Khoury said.
In addition employees who are disengaged struggle to "emotionally connect" with customers.
"If they are not empowered then the minute they get asked something beyond a standard operating manual or procedure, [the employee] will be confused and that emotionally detaches the customer from the experience," Mr Abdallah said.
But if workers are engaged they will go the extra mile to please the customer and retain his or her loyalty.
"[Customers] will come back to you and they will get to a stage where by default if they need a certain product from you, by default they won't even think about going elsewhere," Mr Abdallah said.