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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Survey: 40% of UAE workers do not have freedom to suggest new ideas

UAE-wide study by Emirates Global Aluminium also found 59 per cent of workers wouldn't know who to tell even if they had a good idea

Almost two out of five of all workers in the UAE do not believe they have freedom to suggest new ideas.

And 59 per cent say they had an innovative idea in the past year but did not know who to tell, while 37 per cent believe bosses would not value their ideas even if put into operation.

These findings came in a wide-ranging survey by Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest producer of the metal in the Middle East, which looked at unlocking the potential of workforces here.

Abdullah Kalban, chief executive at EGA, said managers must encourage staff to suggest workplace ideas. "What we have seen in this research is that there is a clear onus on leadership teams to help coax this innovation out of their staff," he said.

“I am calling on all business leaders to challenge themselves to help foster an environment of innovation within their own organisation," he said.

The vast majority of workers — 89 per cent — said they would be more motivated to suggest new ideas if they got a simple pat on the back. This was especially the case for younger workers. Of those aged between 18 and 24, 90 per cent said they would be motivated by being personally recognised by their bosses.

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“Most employees leave companies not because they are paid less — but because they have poor bosses or managers or a lack of recognition,” said Vijay Gandhi, regional director for talent and leadership consultants, Korn Ferry Products Group

Mr Gandhi said some companies were holding forums or labs where employees can suggest ideas in a more informal setting. The best ideas were then rewarded with bonuses but more firms need to embrace this.

“Few organisations are doing it but more need to think about how to involve employees because they have a lot of ideas,” he said.

The survey also found that majority of employees — 74 per cent — feel they have a personal responsibility to innovate as part of their job. Financial incentives were seen by 73 per cent of those surveyed as the most effective way to reward staff, yet the same number said rewards should be shared equally among all employees.

Last month, the Government announced plans for 10-year residency visas for investors and other specialist categories to boost economic growth. Mr Singh said he believed this move would help companies to ensure their workers are prepared for a future where artificial intelligence and technology will radically reshape the jobs market.

“We don’t see the jobs getting fewer. But most of the monotonous jobs will be taken away by technology. So the human element will play a bigger role,” he said. Mr Singh gave the example of a basic accountancy job that could now potentially be done by a machine so companies need to think of ways to develop this role and make it more useful.

“Companies need to train and develop people — and governments need to focus on mobility of talent. If organisations don’t innovate and don’t think about skills or about the future of work, it will hurt them in the long run,” he said.

For the study, EGA surveyed 1,000 workers across the UAE that were aged 18 or over.