Our annual snapshot of the people profession provides an up-to-date, evidence-based picture of practitioners’ experiences and challenges over the last year. This year, it explores the seismic changes in the workplace caused by COVID-19, but also people professionals' contribution to their organisations, their career progression and values they place on their work.

The report provides an annual benchmark for the people profession, combined with a year-on-year overview.

Key findings

  • Digital transformation and external drivers are creating organisational change: While already well developed, digital transformation has accelerated more with the widespread and sudden shift to home (or remote) working due to COVID-19. Governments across the Middle East region mandated this shift, impacting on employees in all industries. Evolving digital technologies and transformation are enabling and driving change in organisations and people functions.

  • The majority of people professionals are increasing their skills and reputation: An overwhelming majority of people professionals have had to either upskill, by deepening their skills, or reskill, by learning new skills. The majority of practitioners agree that the reputation of people professionals in their organisation has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • People professionals have a strong alignment to organisational success and outcomes: A majority of practitioner respondents agree that their people function has a clear understanding of what success looks like in organisational outcomes and that their people function plays a vital role in influencing organisational strategy and direction. Building specialist people expertise is a priority improvement in people management capability within organisations.

  • People professionals are positive and proactive in their career progression: A majority of our respondents report that their career progression is meeting or exceeding their expectations. Skills development and professional qualifications are identified as the main enablers of career advancement. The profession offers a meaningful career for a majority of practitioners. A very large majority of practitioners took part in a learning and development activity, mainly via online learning, in the last 12 months.

  • Purpose is important in people professionals’ work: A very high percentage of practitioners gain personal meaning from their work. Most people professionals believe their work makes them and others happy, and are energised by their work. They see connections between their work and what is important to them in life, as well as the larger social good of their community. People decisions are mainly based on defining issues and professional judgement. Most people teams focus on defining the problem or issue before moving to a solution. Professional experience and judgement, and organisational data, are used a lot in making people decisions. The use of people data and analytics has increased.

About the survey

The survey was conducted online with YouGov during May and June 2021. We surveyed people professionals in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

By taking the pulse of the profession annually, we can make sure we're providing you with the right tools and resources to not only thrive through change – but to shape it.

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