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25 February 2024

Revealed: Best companies in UAE to work for... is yours on the list?

By Shuchita Kapur

The best companies around the world are places where employees are truly excited about coming in every day.

There may be just a handful of them, and it is an employee’s dream to be a part of the elite group. Aspiring is certainly a good thing and who knows you may be there one day, but as of now, let’s take a look at the best places to work in the UAE to simplify your search for that best company in the country.

The Great Place to Work Institute, a global research and management consultancy that recognises the best workplaces in over 45 countries worldwide, last evening released its list of ‘Top Companies to Work for in the UAE’.

The official list is a ranking of the nation’s 15 best employers based on the confidential feedback from their staff and an independent culture audit of their HR practices by the Institute.

The benchmarking study assesses what companies do on a daily basis to earn and sustain the trust and respect of their people.

Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the results of the Institute’s proprietary Trust Index survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company. The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about management's credibility, job satisfaction, and workplace camaraderie.

The other third of the scoring is based on the company’s responses to the Institute’s Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programmes and a series of open-ended questions about hiring, communication, and diversity.

UAE-based companies from a wide range of industry sectors participated in the programme in 2013. In accordance with the practices of the Great Place to Work Institute, only those companies recognised for their exemplary employee management and engagement processes are mentioned on the list of “Top Companies”.

A total of 15 companies made it onto the ‘2013 Top Companies to Work for in the UAE’ list with the results showing an even split between local firms and multinational companies. The Institute says the final results point to a maturing HR sector in the UAE while providing examples of best practice from which other companies can learn.

For 2013, here are the top companies where employees should be sending their CV to.

The Top 15 Companies to Work For in the UAE 2013 are:

Rank Company Name Sector What makes them great
1 Microsoft
Technology While Microsoft has a business focused culture, it also works to create a sense of work/life balance. To that end, it introduced across multiple teams & businesses within Gulf the idea of having a visible Work-Life Balance Charter that the whole team prepares and signs together. This sets the principles that the team feels would assist in raising awareness of some of the key issues impacting an individual’s work/life balance.
2 Marriott
Hospitality Employees at Marriott benefit from a culture of appreciation. As an example, a Certificate of Excellence comes in the name of the associate from the Corporate Headquarters in Washington DC, and signed by the Company Co-Founder J. Willard Marriott, if an associate receives a thank you note from a customer on excellent service.
3 FedEx Express
Transportation Fed Ex’s P-S-P or “people-service-profit” philosophy guides all of their efforts. To thank employees who exemplify PSP, it uses the Purple Promise Award (PPA) which recognizes a team member who goes beyond the typical expectations for his or her job to ensure the customer’s needs are met. Sometimes the individual’s effort requires the assistance of coworkers. In such cases, more than one employee may receive a Purple Promise Award for the same endeavor.
4 THE One
Retail At THE One, employees are invited to participate in the organization’s community involvement efforts. THE One set up THE Onederworld - a Sustainable Village Community programme with balanced quality Education at its heart. Presently, six classrooms of a brand new school have been built in the Pimbiniet community in Kenya in conjunction with Free The Children.
Transportation At global logistics firm, DHL, their human capital work has centered on their ‘employee value proposition’ which includes Growth, Impact and Pride – all of which are evident from their onboarding programme to the customized learning and development plans each employee receives.
6 Ericsson
Communications For over 10 years Ericsson employees have provided essential mobile communications to support disaster relief and humanitarian aid through Ericsson Response. Ericsson Response is a non-profit employee volunteer initiative that works in partnership with aid agencies to facilitate ICT solutions for their key missions; humanitarian relief work in disasters and enablers of economic growth and quality of life. This non-profit activity engages Ericsson employees in volunteer work with no commercial objective and is a key component of Ericsson's corporate responsibility activities. Not only is it inspiring those who participate but is a source of motivation, empowerment and value creation for all Ericsson employees.
7 Omnicom Media Group
Media The Circle of Excellence is the OMG forum for thinking “outside the box”. It is championed by a senior and provides a confidential forum in which to brainstorm solutions to challenges in business, personal and family life for themselves and on behalf of their colleagues. Participants are asked to share their commitment to maintaining a life-long focus on progress toward their long and short-term goals.
8 Securities and Commodities Authority
Government agency On January 29, 2000 H.H UAE President issued a federal decree to set up a public authority in the UAE's capital, which was called "Securities and Commodities Authority - SCA" The Authority enjoyed a legal entity, financial and administrative independence with the control and executive powers necessary for it to discharge its tasks in line with the provisions of this law and the regulations issued in implementation thereof, noting that the authority reported to the minister. SCA earned a spot on the top UAE companies list in part because of its creative approach to thanking and motivating its employees. SCA offers a continuous variety of awards, recognition programs, and incentives that drive employees to grow and drive toward both personal and professional goals. SCA also offers generous benefits – such as enhanced maternity and paternity leave – and interest free loans to employees for cars and homes.
9 Bayt
Technology Bayt works hard at creating an employee-centric culture. In developing employees, for example, it conducts a daily training. These 30 to 40 minutes training sessions are called STARS training and the content is prepared by a baythead and the same content is shared across the offices each day.
10 EMC2
Technology EMC works hard to provide a caring culture, going beyond what is required. For example, it grants paternity leave, marriage leave, compassionate leave, even though it is not required to do so by labor law. And it grants public holidays in excess of government announcements.
11 PepsiCo
Food & Beverage Employees at PepsiCo benefit during welcoming from an assigned “functional onboarding coach” and a “culture coach.” These two mentors help the new employee adjust to the company and its culture.
12 Dulsco
HR & Industrial Services Dulsco actively listens to employees. Its open door and ‘open office’ model facilitates two way communication, especially down-up, and it also has Suggestion Boxes across every location/department to encourage suggestions through awards and recognition. The GPTW employee satisfaction survey is conducted each year to understand the areas of strengths and weaknesses and to understand how it fares against other companies. The results are shared with the management and plans are designed for improvement in the following year. Results are announced to the entire organization along with the improvement plans.
13 Merck Serono UAE
Pharmaceuticals Effective communication is important to Merck UAE. It developed an “Employee Council” where every 15 employees elect one member to be their voice to senior managers. The employee council meets directly with the managing director of the organization, the HR director and the VP of the region. In this meeting, all issues are discussed openly and there are no barriers to topics. Direct feedback is given to the employee council who transfer the message back and answer all queries of their respective teams.
14 General Electric
Manufacturing & Production HealthAhead is a GE company-wide initiative for employees that promotes a culture of health through support, programs and resources to promote healthy living at work and at home. HealthAhead focuses on a variety of topics crucial to employee health, including nutrition, tobacco cessation, exercise and preventative health workshops. In addition, healthymagination is a GE corporate initiative that focuses on employee and public health. It’s about becoming healthier, through the sharing of imaginative ideas and proven solutions. It goes beyond innovations in the fields of technology and medicine, celebrating the people behind these advancements. Healthymagination also builds stronger relationships between patients and doctors, allowing them to gather, share and discuss healthy ideas.
15 Mondelez International
Manufacturing & Production - Food products Every year in the first week of October, Mondelēz International globally participates in CSR work. A testimony to the sense of pride and CSR the employees have…last year, Kraft Foods MEA, FZE created the Longest Line of Sandwiches (Guinness World Record) and then distributed these sandwiches along with a few more of our products in the Labour Camps in Dubai (5500+ meal boxes were distributed). These sandwiches were completely made, packed, delivered and distributed by Kraft Foods MEA , FZE employees. This year as well, employees packed 5000 + meal boxes to be distributed to camps in Somalia and Pakistan. Similar CSR efforts of packing food for the hungry, educating at-risk youth about health and nutrition, supporting disaster relief efforts, and providing aid to the elderly, disabled and low-income families were replicated in its plants in KSA and Bahrain.

Expert View

Just as an employee needs to work hard to remain the star performer, a company also needs to work hard to keep its slot on the most desirable companies for employees.

“Top companies have successfully built trust-based cultures, developed strong relationships with employees, and have put in place continuous improvement programs to develop their workplace cultures,” David Robert, CEO of Great Place to Work, told Emirates 24|7.

So, what does it take to make it to the top list? “The list is a benchmarking study that assesses the level of trust between three key relationships within the workplace – employees and their managers, employees and their jobs, and between employees and other employees. Companies that appear on the annual list implement strategies that develop high levels of trust across all these relationships,” he said.

Umm, what about the moolah? “In terms of compensation, the UAE struggles with this issue more than countries such as the US and those in Western Europe because its transient ex-pat talent pool may be motivated by short-term financial incentives rather than the quality of a company’s culture. But, we do see this changing here in the UAE as the ex-pat population plants roots in the region,” said the CEO of Great Place to Work.