Strategies to Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UAE: A Guide to Encounter Human Resource Challenges

Strategies to Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UAE: A Guide to Encounter Human Resource Challenges

Premila Koppalakrishnan, Gerry N. Muuka
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8451-4.ch004
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the playing field and overall operations for organizations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the world at large. In this chapter, the authors explore the biggest human resource (HR)-related challenges that firms in the UAE have faced as a result of COVID-19. The chapter outlines the skills and competencies required by professionals to overcome the challenges they have experienced. This groundbreaking chapter also undertakes an analysis of the extent to which COVID-19 and the lockdown have influenced the ability of human resource departments to achieve their key strategic objectives. It has been found that skills are among the most important competencies that professionals must possess today to keep pace with recent developments and in order to navigate the “new normal.” The chapter concludes with a review of the competitive survival strategies that UAE organizations are applying in order to remain sustainable during and post COVID-19.
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Background: Covid-19’S Disruptions In The United Arab Emirates (Uae)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates with one of the most diversified and non-oil-dependent economies in the Gulf. Its economy is heavily reliant on areas such as hospitality, tourism, entertainment, real estate, and retail. The UAE boasts a well-developed infrastructure, a stable political system, and one of the Gulf region's most free trade regimes. The UAE market benefits from a strategic geographic location (Dubai is considered a regional center and commercial capital for the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond), a big expatriate community, and a liberal trading environment that attracts capital from all over the region.

The coronavirus infection, commonly known as COVID-19, is caused by a severe and acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which is part of a large family of coronaviruses. The Covid-19 pandemic has flung the world's playing field into disarray. Even the wealthy nations of the Arabian Gulf have been hard hit and the UAE is no exception. The major industries overall operations in the United Arab Emirates were severely affected resulting in several adverse implications on the business. In a survey of 2,600 organizations in 14 countries, Mita (2020) found that many companies in the UAE (79 percent) were “highly impacted” by COVID-19 in comparison to other affected markets. The UAE was the second- highest market after India to experience the impact “quite significantly” (42 percent). Beside the slowdown of the global economy, several organizations in the UAE, regardless of size and sector such as Aviation, Real estate, F&B, Travel & Hospitality, and Health care, were negatively affected, with some forced to close. According to Donthu and Gustafsson (2020), many businesses, specifically those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, are gravely affected by the restrictions imposed by national governments such as physical distancing, travel bans, and lockdowns. In the words of Carnevale & Hatak (2020), COVID-19 has created “a particularly challenging environment for human resource management (HRM) – with managers having to quickly venture into the ‘unknown unknowns,’ as they strive to help their workforce adapt to and cope with radical changes occurring in the world.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

COVID-19 Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Mental Health of Employees: Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being of employees.

Employee Engagement: Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.

Competencies: Competencies are particular qualities that a company’s recruiters have decided are desirable for employees to possess.

Human Asset: Human Assets are the accumulated knowledge and skills that make a workforce productive and are part of the Intangible Assets the company.

HR Practioners: HR professionals integrate their activities closely with management and ensure that they serve a long-term strategic purpose.

Talent Acquisition: Talent acquisition refers to the process of identifying and acquiring skilled workers to meet your organizational needs.

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