Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Sector: Strategic HRM

Introduction

The purpose of this report is to explore the influence of strategic human resource management practices at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA). For the purpose of this report, strategic human resource management entails policies and practices that are developed and implemented to facilitate an organisation’s objectives.

However, in this report, HRM strategies adopted by the TCA will be examined. The connection between HRM and the organisation’s business strategies will be evaluated to assess how this relationship affects business performance. While addressing these issues, this report will tackle various major areas, which include the practices of HRM like recruitment, training, compensation and benefits, and overseeing the general attainment of the organisation’s goals.

The TCA’s main purpose is to manage the Emirate’s tourism sector by displaying its activities and events globally with an aim of reaching a wide range of tourists and investors (Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, 2015a). While it targets new relationships across the globe, the Authority is keen to trap domestic customers in a bid to conserve the Abu Dhabi’s cultural heritage, particularly historic and archaeological destinations. Since business investment is reliant on the present and the future, the Authority is currently overseeing the development of various tourism attraction sites like the Zayed National Museum and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Authority is also facilitating a wide range of activities that aim at nurturing a cultural environment that will attract both local and international tourists. Since the Authority is committed to supporting a wide array of activities, it is aware that its objectives can be achieved with the full support of all its departments and stakeholders. The research questions to be addressed include whether the HRM played a strategic duty in the Authority’s operations. In addition, the paper will investigate whether the Authority met the challenges of managing task force, and if yes, the measure that it has taken to address the issues. Ultimately, the paper will highlight the HRM strategies used by the Authority to influence business performance. The main discussion will focus on the overall impact of HRM on the organisation’s outcomes and sustainability.

HRM strategies adopted by the Authority

The HRM practices in the TCA involve selecting, recruiting, compensation, deployment, knowledge and innovation dissemination among others (TDIC, 2013). These practices are guided by the laid policies that involve employee influence, reward systems and work systems towards quality performance based on moral and ethical considerations. The major issue facing the strategic HRM is managing taskforce, which is exacerbated by the basic changes in employment relations in the Abu Dhabi tourism sector in recent times.

Selecting and recruiting task force has been a huge challenge because there is a shortage of skilled labour as well as inappropriate business activities by competitors. The need for selecting and recruiting labour force effectively presents various challenges for HRM. These challenges include identifying skilled and professional workforce. In a bid to alleviate these challenges, the TCA has developed a good reputation about the workers’ satisfaction and service delivery. This image has helped in attracting candidates from all over the world.

Given that the selection and recruitment process determines the kind of workforce to join the authority, the HRM should ensure that it initiates a series of tests aimed at sorting the best candidates concerning the roles that they are expected to fill. Before the candidates qualify as employees, supervisors and other interviewers should ensure that they have the right people for the job based on merit and the employers’ strategic plans.

Since the TCA is an entity attracting visitors from all over the world, the HRM has identified that it has to recruit workers from diverse cultures, religions, races, and nationalities to mark a wide representation of the visitors’ interest (Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, 2015b).

In a bid to avoid the existing workers’ skills from becoming obsolete, training and career development are essential aspects for workers in the Authority. In this regard, training and development are used to facilitate workers’ abilities. In a bid to alleviate this challenge, the TCA has elaborate training programs for both new and continuing employees. Training focuses on deciding what positions that the Authority has to fill coupled with how to ensure the right personnel to fill them. The HRM’s training department engages and coordinates with partners to facilitate the workforce skills.

The department assesses the firm’s training requirements and conducts training based on the needed personnel. Currently, the TCA’s strategic HRM is working with committed outreach educational partners including the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Hong Kong School of Hotel Management among others (Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, n.d). This strategic plan ensures that the authority has a steady supply of tailor-made professionals. This move reduces the cost of recruitment training and ensures that workers engage in roles that they are in line with their skills.

In a bid to foster a committed and focused team, compensation and benefits need to be considerate. Performance oriented pay is an HR practices aimed at motivating workers to be productive. The Authority awards good salaries to its employees coupled with issuing bonuses to the employee of the week in a bid to ensure that there is the motivation to perform. Salaries are awarded based on performance rather than qualifications. Seniority and period of service are considered when making promotions and salary increase.

Hardship allowances are also offered to employees working in marginalised areas. The authority has a succession plan that ensures that the Authority considers the inside supply of candidates to fill the most crucial positions and outside candidates who adopt through training can fill the less involving vacancies. This aspect motivates the workers to aim at achieving the organisation’s goals since the HRM is committed to satisfying their needs as workers.

This strategy also serves to attract and retain skilled labour, hence increasing the firm’s performance. Salary surveys are often carried by the Authority to ensure that there is equity in pay rates across the organisation as well as the outside market. This equity brings a competitive advantage during the acquisition of skilled labour force.

Impact of HR strategies on employee

The TCA has proved the effectiveness of HRM practices on employee outcome, thus motivating investment in its employees innovatively. Because of proper HRM strategies the TCA employees have shown commitment, competence, congruence and efficacy which result to quality performance. The HRM offers training on cultural differences, adjustment, and adaptation skills when dealing with foreign visitors. It also offers mobility premiums to reward workers for shifting from one role to another. Since the tourism and culture sector involves all stakeholders, extensive engagement programs are conducted by the HRM to ensure workers well-being, organisational effectiveness and societal well-being.

In the Authority, it is highly acknowledged that the employees’ commitment creates a crucial source of competitive edge for the industry. Thus, this organisation ensures teamwork, job design, and autonomy since they are desirable opportunities to perform. The needs that increase motivation include workers’ holidays, paid leaves, extra pay for every extra task completed, and appraisals. This move results in profits, good reputation for the firm, market competitiveness, product quality, and high sales.

The indicators that motivate employees to perform are many and unique for everyone. Some claim that they are motivated by the urge to make a difference, while others say it is their leaders’ relations. However, irrespective of what drives an individual to attain maximum production, the HRM must learn every employee’s strengths and weakness. This aspect helps the HRM to influence employee strengths to fit in its strategic plans and work on alleviating the weakness through teamwork and specific training. The job design should be organised in a way to ensure employees’ tasks are well defined and they can make decisions on their own.

This aspect ensures that motivation does not reinforce one sector at the expense of the other. Leadership that guides and supports workers wins the trust and loyalty of the employees who develop motivation to perform. The Authority offers industry awareness to its workers through often meetings that share best practices and encourages quality performance. In today’s competitive world where everyone wants to be a hero, employees are motivated to stay relevant as the Authority provides several skill improvements that elevate their potential.

The rate of absenteeism is a reflection of the workplace environment and employee satisfaction. Absenteeism entails workers missing part or whole day work due to personal reasons excluding paid holidays. HR should ensure that employees enjoy going to work by improving working conditions. For instance, the rate of absenteeism has hugely decreased following provision of transport to workers. Workers feel obligated to go to work since they have good means to get to work.

During the boom period, the TCA experiences a sudden increase in new clients. Even though in the past years the increase brought in additional revenue and investment opportunities, it also increased the workload, which contributed to increased stress and burnouts among employees. Failure of the HR to recruit more employees exacerbated absenteeism because employees suffered from fatigue and responded by being late to work and taking unplanned breaks during work time.

The HRM responded by sanctioning absenteeism through salary cuts and sometimes demotion. This aspect did not work out as planned since the Authority needed increased concentration and cooperation of its work. During the previous year, after assessing the workplace practices related to absenteeism, the Authority came up with a long-term strategic HRM plan that included cross-sectional training programs that aimed at ensuring that absent workers could be easily covered by employees from any other department rather than seeking temporary replacements.

The plans sought to increase the workforce in a bid to cut overtime work and give workers enough time to relax and improve their well-being. In addition, the Authority introduced working-from-home-option to address the issue of unavoidable absenteeism. Following these changes, the rate of absenteeism has decreased from about 6% in 2014 to 3%, in 2015, thus increasing production and employee satisfaction.

In the tourism and culture sector, high turnover is acknowledged as the defining feature resulting in high personnel costs while selecting and training new replacements. Following the high demand for skilled employees, in the trade and hotel sector in the TCA, early turnover leads to waste of the Authority’s sizeable investment in workforce development. Consequently, the Authority’s HRM has embarked on research to determine the direct and indirect causes of high turnover in some departments and not others.

The HRM has taken voluntary turnover as its problem and taken swift measures by conducting surveys to establish why employees are unhappy and leave when alternatives are available. The Authority established that the trade and hotel sectors are fast growing industries all over the world and attractive job opportunities are many elsewhere in the world especially for the skilled people. In a bid to mitigate this issue, currently, the Authority is offering good salary packages, enormous career opportunities, and a cross-functional system where every worker’s contribution is appreciated. This move has improved worker retention since the environment is conducive for both employees and the employer.

The workers’ perception of fairness is a delicate matter that significantly influences their performance in the workplace. Fairness in the workplace involves treating all workers as equals in terms of compensation and benefits for work well done or sanctions on non-performing workers given that employees undergo same working conditions. If workers perceive that there is inequality in the workplace, some may not report the matter, but they may tend to produce less, while others may seek to sabotage the system that is encouraging inequality.

In the TCA, these issues define every day’s work environment, but they are properly handled by the strategic HRM through open communication in meetings, which are held on weekly basis. Every worker is presented with an opportunity to present his or her issues after which the HRM is expected to give a timely response. In addition, consultations are conducted across departments and feedback sessions are set to foster the industry consensus on the HRM practices affecting the workers. The strategic team also meets with partners each month to identify the rising challenges and opportunities for workers to come up jointly with solutions to stimulate fairness and progress.

Impact of HRM on financial outcome

Currently, the TCA has demonstrated increased financial outcome as opposed to past years. The net margin increased by 4% in 2015 growth which is highly attributable to the in the HR practices like increased recruitment and job satisfaction. The current HR goals and core business are focused on three major sectors that include developing an infrastructure that supports and nurtures increased market share through employee performance.

The second is advancing and conserving the Emirate’s unique heritage and culture through increased sales and investment, while the third one is attracting visitors and enhancing the lives of locals by making Abu Dhabi an excellent destination through market value addition (Sahoo, 2015). The success of these factors is attributable to critical HR goals that involve cost effectiveness, accountability, legitimacy and flexibility.

Unlike, in 2014 when the Authority experienced financial challenges resulting in high worker turnover, poor marketing strategies, worker productivity and low investment, the current HRM has changed the situation in less than a year. These issues have been dealt with through efficiency and cost reduction and the growth has been reflected in increased market share that has led to higher profits as compared to the previous years. Quality services and legitimacy have led to an increase in visitors, hence translating into increased sales. Some of the activities, which have led to a rise in financial profits, include the vibrant program of exhibitions, cultural events, and festivals.

Currently, the TCA boast of an increased market share both locally and globally (Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, 2015c). Through the HRM’s management of both existing and new museums, the Authority is widening its market swiftly. For instance, the ongoing construction of the Saadiyat Cultural District is intended to expand the market share and attract new audiences for the arts and culture.

In terms of market value, the Authority has established outreach and educational programs to nurture the next generation of leaders via academics, professional training, and work placements. In addition, the HRM strategic has embarked on campaigns in engaging the clients in interactive sessions to weigh their views regarding satisfaction after which changes are done with respect to customer demands. This strategy aims at effectiveness and continuity.

Impact of HRM on organisational outcomes

Organisational performance is becoming highly crucial for the Authority, especially in this era when the market is very competitive and dynamic. Organisational performance entails getting the desired outcomes from the individuals and teams by cooperating to manage performance within a set framework of quality requirements. On customer satisfaction, the TCA’s strategic HRM has recruited sufficient workforce to facilitate timely and quality service to their customers. Customer satisfaction has increased following the availability of medical benefits for the workers and their family.

This aspect has reduced the number of sick leave because workers can easily access timely and effective medications, hence improving their well-being at work. In addition, the HR has introduced other family benefits such as paid holidays, children education allowance, and housing. More specifically, this positive association between employees and HR practices and policies lead to customer satisfaction because if employees are comfortable with their jobs, they are likely to engage customers in ways that foster positive service experiences.

Through the HR value chain, the TCA ensures high efficiency aimed at balancing productivity and quality. Quality services and products are the key goals of the strategic HRM in TCA. Through the strategic HRM practices, the industry, in partnership with its stakeholders, has forged solutions to stimulate quality progress in the hospitality, aviation, tour operators, business tourism, and retail activities. These partnerships aim at ensuring that there is no gap in customer satisfaction across all areas of operation. The HRM comes up with incentive plans based on team’s performance to improve quality by rewarding teams and individuals who show quality and efficacy.

Innovation entails developing new services and products to maintain competitive advantage in the market. With the rapid changes stemming from the evolution of information technology and globalisation, competition for market share has heightened, thus pushing the HRM to foster product differentiation. However, this goal is being achieved through establishing of new services to ensure that visitors keep engaged throughout their visit to TCA. It is the mandate of the HRM to identify those workers who can function effectively in particular positions to steer innovation.

The current innovative activities include working towards an economically sustainable tourism destination that ensures that the tourism industry is attaining customer demands and serves as a major global economic contributor. The HRM also seeks to ensure a socially responsible tourism that offers global cohesion by embracing other people’s cultures whilst respecting the Emirati culture and heritage. Through visual and performing arts, the HRM is offering a unique cultural destination for domestic and global visitors whilst instilling a real understanding of the Abu Dhabi’s artistic and cultural institution to ensure sustained competitive advantage (Benjamin, 2015).

Conclusion

The main contributions of this report are HR practices, which are positive and associated with outcomes as expected. If the HR practices such as selection, recruitment, compensation, and development are poorly managed, the outcomes will also be poor. In this respect, this paper explored three different outcomes including financial, organisational, and employee satisfaction. The report confirmed that Job satisfaction is a basic factor that mediates the relationship between HR practices and organisational outcomes in TCA.

It also confirmed that the net margin increased due to increased recruitment, job design, autonomy, and development. HR policies such as compensation based on performance and salary sanctions following absenteeism were key indicators of client satisfaction because workers were held accountable of TCA’s sustainability. Following improvement in working conditions through high recruitment and good compensation, the rate of absenteeism continues to decline. Ultimately, it has been evidenced that HRM makes a difference, particularly towards achieving organisations goals as reflected in TCA. Through the efforts of the organised strategic HRM practices, the Authority has created a strong reputation and excellent services whilst ensuring fairness in the tourism industry.

References

Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority: About Us. (2015).

Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority: Industry and tourist guide training. (2015b).

Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority: Monthly hotel establishment report. (2015c).

Benjamin, K. (2015). TCA Abu Dhabi launches hotel-led initiative to shape tourism industry. Conference and Incentive Travel.

Cornell University School of Hotel Administration: Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority in collaboration with Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration presents “Strategic Leadership in Turbulent Times. (n.d.)

Sahoo, S. (2015). Abu Dhabi visitor numbers expected to keep growing.

TDIC: Annual report 2013.