Human resources in the spotlight

As financial markets begin to take an interest in human resources practices and metrics, organisations will be under increased pressure to deliver results.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  February 24, 2005

Human resources procedure is the subject of discussion for David Creelman, CEO at Creelman Research, Canada and former chief of content and research at HR.com, in a working paper presented at the fourth Middle East HR conference and exhibition. At the event organised by the Etisalat Academy at Mina A’salam in Dubai, Creelman points out that human capital measures are often shown in social responsibility reports, rather than appearing in financial reports. Speaking on the second day of the conference, Sameer Daqqaq, the vice president for Marriott International global sales says, “Tourism and hospitality is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the fastest growing one in the world. According to the World Tourism Organisation, tourism is one of the top five export categories for more than four out of five countries worldwide. It also recognises the Middle East as one of the fastest growing areas of the world in tourism.” He added that in the UAE, tourism represents 15% of economic activity, and hotels generate almost US$850 million annually. This figure is set to increase, particularly in Dubai, where it is estimated that the current number of five million tourists will double by 2009. This is not a surprise in light of the projects being planned by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and UAE minister of defence. Developments such as the Palm Islands, the Dubai Waterfront, and the Dubai Business Bay will develop Dubai into one of the most attractive tourism destinations globally. Daqqaq adds, “Many service industries like to use the slogan ‘the customer is always right’…At Marriott International, we have one core belief that underpins everything else: ‘take care of your associates and they will take care of your guests.’ No matter how many new HR ideologies come on the market, you will never get one to beat that simple fact.” A highlight on the first day of the conference was the presence and participation of several HR experts, including Ricardo Semler, the president of Semco. The Brazilian-based company is unique in some of its business practices as managers can determine their salaries and staff may choose their bosses. The unusual systems are proving successful for the organisation, however, and its revenues have grown from US$35 million to US$160 million in the past six years despite the severe economic conditions in Latin America. Ricardo Semler is the author of “The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works”, a bestseller in 2004. In the book, he explains how managers can turn a seven-day working week of drudgery and pressure to an enjoyable week full of entertainment and fun. Other participants include Abdullah Al Daboos, general manager of Emirates Post, who will speak about revolutionising Emirates Post through human competitive advantage. Obaid bin Mes’har, deputy CEO for Emirates Telecommunication and chairman of Etisalat Academy’s board of directors says, “Like other international organisations, we believe in the importance of training and developing employee abilities. This is the main strength of the organisation in achieving its goals. This annual conference is meant to share experiences for the participants to learn from in the field of human resources.” Bin Mes’har adds, “The fourth Middle East HR conference and exhibition — The Future of HR — promises to be bigger and better this year. It will steer the practices, functions and operations of organisations’ HR. It is a gateway to meet with peers in the industry and to gain expertise from an array of renowned professionals.”

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