Through a mixture of infrastructure, education and access to essential markets, the Middle East has a lot to offer creative talent both locally and from across the globe. The appetite for creative growth has led to government commitments in increasing their support for these industries. An example of this is the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy which is committed to increase creative industry GDP contribution from 2.6% in 2020 to 5% by 2025. The UAE are just one of the areas throughout the Middle East that is embracing the ‘creative economy’.
Despite this, the Middle East is still developing and has a limited domestic pool of talent. In addition, they aren’t the only market globally pushing for top creative talent. The United States have a well developed creative economy with arts and cultural economic activity accounting for $1.02 trillion in 2021 and employment in the sector growing by 5% in the same year. What can you do to make sure you don’t miss out on the top creative talent available?
Expectations of creative talent from employers in the Middle East
Creativity can’t be formed in a vacuum. Instead, it needs the right environment to help nurture and cultivate the creative process – helping creatives push boundaries. Cities, such as Dubai, help cultivate this through being “modern, beautiful, and progressive” as described by MullenLowe MENA CEO Mounir Harfouche. However, this approach is also required on a cultural level within organisations.
The demanded skillset for creatives in the Middle East has been impacted by the rapid growth in industries such as the technology and communications sectors. Dubbed “creative technologists” there has been an expectation on creatives to also deliver on more technical aspects of work, such as data analytics. This additional demand has seen a rise in hours worked by creative professionals in the Middle East leading to burnout. Fishbowl reports figures as high as 65% of advertising and public relations professionals have suffered from burnout. So how can this be mitigated to better meet the demands of creative talent?
Company culture is a key factor for many creatives who are seeking an inclusive and collaborative environment. Bringing together talent from different regions is a great way to provide new and exciting ideas but can also come with HR challenges. Ensuring that diversity is embraced throughout the organisation and is entrenched in the company culture can be a large draw for creatives looking to work in this way.
A similar stance on supporting social and environmental causes has also been shown to be attractive with 72% of millennials citing a positive social impact as an important reason they work for their organisation.
A strong culture, and brand image that personifies this culture, can be used to attract creative talent that will fit your organisation. For this, the right messaging and communications channels are required to develop this awareness with prospective employees.
Benefits are also a crucial factor in high attracting creative professionals and differentiating your offer from competitors. A study by Zurich in 2022 found that 89% of employees would switch job for the same salary if better benefits were available. In the same study, they also found that 45% of those surveyed cited benefits as the strongest pillar in their relationship with an employer besides salary.
Ensuring that the benefit offering is understood by prospective and current employees can ensure that creatives join and stay with your organisation. This follows a growing trend in the region with 58% of Middle East employers increasing their focus on online portals and mobile apps to better communicate their employee benefits.
Mental health has been a large focus for employers since 2020. A recent global study showed that the Middle Eastern region suffers from some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Having an open and honest HR policy around mental health which can be demonstrated through the company culture to prospective employees can improve the chance of securing candidates who are high quality but require this additional support.
How to start attracting creative talent
The Middle Eastern region has a lot to offer creatives both regionally and from across the globe. However, there are still challenges that you as an employer might face in trying to differentiate your offering in a market that is large and still growing.
We have touched on a small number of factors to consider when trying to attract the highest quality creative talent for your business. As experts in recruitment for marketing, communications and technology sectors, we can provide a comprehensive strategy to make sure your business stands out from the crowd.
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