BUSINESSES across Saudi Arabia are striving to recruit Saudi nationals and increase their retention rate at all levels as part of their ambitious plans to meet the development goals envisaged in the country’s Vision 2030 reform initiative.
While most companies are skeptical and often complain about the low retention rate among Saudi staff, fashion chain REDTAG claims that Saudi employees at its headquarters remained with the company for an average of six years though the rate is slightly lower in the store environment.
Speaking about REDTAG’s Saudization program, the company’s HR Manager Jassim Al-Thawadi said Saudization gave them an important edge in the market.
He said like in any other country, Saudi employees know their country and customers better and this is a factor that helps the company to set its footprint in the market.
Full text of the interview:
How important Saudization is for your business?
I believe Saudization should be a core tenet of any business in the Kingdom and a key factor to it, whether it is homegrown or global brand.
Firstly, Saudization represents a form of duty and appreciation toward a nation that has been welcoming; it is an authentic form of committing to and aligning with the government’s vision to empower the people of Saudi Arabia.
As a regional homegrown brand, we consider ourselves as part of the communities we operate in, and for us to really belong to this nation, we recognize the importance of having a strong representation of Saudis among our workforce.
From a business perspective, Saudization can also give us an edge. We all know that Saudis are most in touch with what other Saudis want and this is the case of any other nation. In order for us to grow our footprint in the Kingdom and boost our performance, we need to involve Saudi nationals at every stage of planning and implementation of our business plan and encourage them to be active within every discipline of our organization.
What is the Saudization rate among the REDTAG’s KSA team?
We currently have 1,035 Saudi nationals working across different departments of REDTAG. This number represents 40 percent of the overall workforce of REDTAG in the Kingdom.
How many of them are managers?
More than 20 Saudi nationals are holding managerial positions in office as well as store related functions. They are considered core team members and play an active role in REDTAG business. They are also instrumental in the growth and expansion of REDTAG network in the Kingdom.
What is the process of recruiting Saudi nationals?
The process of recruiting a Saudi national is the same as recruiting any other prospective employee. The only difference is in the methods we target them. The market is quite competitive and we usually hire recruitment agencies that are specialized in identifying the right talent for the available vacancies at the company. We also take part in university job fairs and engage with fresh graduates and even students who would be interested in joining the REDTAG team.
What are the basic requirements for a Saudi national to join the REDTAG team?
Each position has its specific requirements, but the general criteria are: a reasonable communication ability, willingness to learn and basic commercial acumen.
Do you hire fresh Saudi graduates?
Yes, we have positions for both high school and university graduates, depending on their level of education. High school graduates usually go for cashier and sales positions, while university graduates opt more for customer service and data management among other duties.
Do you find it more challenging to recruit Saudi Nationals than it is to recruit other nationalities?
Not really, we have recruitment specialists and partners that have been instrumental in identifying and hiring the right Saudi talent for us.
What is the average retention rate of your Saudi staff?
Retention is often the challenge of many companies in the Kingdom and REDTAG is not an exception. We are proud to say that our headquarter office enjoys an average retention rate of six years, though that rate drops in the store environment.
How many Saudi women work at REDTAG KSA?
Approximately 20 percent, 535 to be exact, of our staff are Saudi women. They hold positions of cashiers, customer service representatives and supervisors. They also work in our headquarter office, handling recruitment, training and administration.
What is the average age of f Saudi women at REDTAG?
The average age of female Saudis working at REDTAG is 27 years with a fairly balanced gender split: 535 females against 500 males. We are proud of having this representation of Saudi nationals among our workforce and we are working toward maintaining this split, while increasing our retention rate and diversifying the representation of Saudi nationals among all department and positions.
Do you find it more challenging to retain female Saudi staff than Saudi males?
No, we don’t see Saudi female staff retention as an issue. We have experienced that their retention rate is quite encouraging.
Do you have any special training programs for your staff? What are they and how frequently they happen?
At REDTAG, we truly believe that our employees are our most important asset. We are very proud to have been recently recognized as the GCC Best Employer Brand Award by the prestigious Employee Branding Institute, which reinforces our commitment to our employees.
Training is the key element of developing the skills of our employees, while increasing their loyalty to the REDTAG brand.
We have different training programs that start from the first day of any employee; helping her/him forge their knowledge about retail, competition, customer service and many other disciplines that make them not only real professionals in the retail industry, but also satisfied members of the REDTAG family.
What are you doing as a brand to increase brand loyalty among your employees, especially in the current challenging business landscape?
As mentioned earlier, we know that our workforce is the most important asset of our business, and it is true that with the current economic situation and the low retention rates, we need to make further efforts to build and strengthen the brand loyalty among our employees.
This is why we are currently working on a training model called “the road success”. This program consists of transforming a REDTAG employee from a sales representative to a true retail professional, providing her/him with the right tools and skills needed to progress in career path within our company. Courses including various disciplines such as English, computer skills and retail fundamentals are offered to our most passionate and committed employees on a continuous basis. This increases not only brand love among our staff, but also performance. — SG