A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Culture of Recognition in UAE

Learn to build a collaborative environment and engage with employees.

Anam Javed
Reviewed by:
Faye Ameen
July 9, 2024
0 min read time
Anam Javed
Marketing Operations Manager

A culture of recognition is not just an HR trends but imperative to creating a productive and loyal workforce. There are several ways in which companies can build a culture of recognition to foster a sense of trust, ownership, and loyalty amongst employees. 

UAE is a dynamic society with thousands of people who come together from different countries across the globe. Each professional in the UAE brings their unique values and professional ethics to the workplace. For employers to effectively engage all employees to build a collaborative work environment, they must recognize each employee for the unique value they offer. 

But before diving into how employers in the UAE can build a culture of recognition, let’s answer the most important question: what is a culture of recognition? 

What is a Culture of Recognition? 

A culture of recognition is where every employee feels seen and valued. It is all about recognizing the good work, ethics, and impact employees offer. To build a culture of recognition, employers can leverage various initiatives such as:

  • Appreciating employees,¬†
  • Offering monetary rewards,¬†
  • Celebrating small wins,¬†
  • Planning engagement activities and¬†
  • Offering other incentives¬†

These activities are planned for employees who produce great work and go above and beyond to show their commitment to their role! 

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How to Create a Culture of Recognition

1. Communicate to Build Trust

To create a positive work culture that recognizes employees for their efforts and achievements, practicing honest communication with your employees is important. Communication is what allows employees to understand what is expected of them. These expectations go beyond each employee’s job description and the KPIs they must meet, reflecting the company's core values. 

Facilitating communication allows employees to express their concerns and challenges openly, making them feel heard. It also enables employers to examine employees’ cultural struggles and plan solutions accordingly. In UAE’s work environment, open communication to foster transparency amongst employees is crucial because it is likely that employees from different cultural backgrounds are unfamiliar with each other’s style of communication and choice of gestures or expressions. 

Communication is the go-to strategy for any employer that wishes to create an honest environment where employees can express themselves freely, ask questions, challenge ideas, and clearly understand one another 

2. Develop Recognition Programs 

Employers must recognize their employees for all the great things they bring to the team, such as great work ethic, high revenue, or a positive attitude. Hence, employers need to recognize and reward their employees accordingly, especially when managing a culturally diverse workforce like in the UAE. 

Employers can develop several recognition programs that can serve as tangible expressions of gratitude, reinforcing positive behaviors and contributing to a motivated and engaged workforce with varied cultural backgrounds. 

It is important to align these recognition programs with the company's values and objectives so that employees understand the direct link between their contributions and the organization's success. This helps foster a sense of pride and ownership that transcends cultural boundaries and creates a culture of mutual appreciation and recognition. 

Here are some employee recognition programs that employers can leverage to create a culture of recognition; 

Employee of the Month/Quarter:

Recognizing outstanding performance through the Employee of the Month/Quarter initiative sets a standard for excellence, promoting healthy competition and inclusivity in a multicultural setting.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition:

Encouraging colleagues from diverse backgrounds to appreciate each other's achievements fosters a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere where employees from different cultures actively celebrate the successes of their peers.

Longevity Awards:

Recognizing employees for their years of service reflects appreciation for dedication and commitment, acknowledging the diverse contributions of individuals across various cultural backgrounds.

Team Achievement Celebrations:

Recognizing and celebrating team successes emphasizes the collaborative spirit within a multicultural setting, where diversity strengthens in achieving challenging goals.

Wellness Recognition:

Acknowledging employees who maintain a healthy work-life balance or engage in wellness initiatives reflects the company's commitment to the well-being of a diverse workforce.

Innovation Awards:

Recognizing employees for innovative contributions promotes a culture that values diverse perspectives and encourages creativity across different cultural lenses.

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3. Create Feedback Checkpoints

Once you have developed clear goals for every company member, it is important to establish regular checkpoints to measure progress and offer feedback. Feedback is imperative for employees to understand their performance and identify areas of improvement. Feedback checkpoints also allow employees to feel like they’re being observed, motivating them to improve. It is a great way to help employees understand the impact of their efforts to instill a sense of pride and achievement. 

Moreover, in the dynamics of the UAE workplace, feedback empowers employees to collaborate effectively, overcome challenges, and maximize their productivity. Offering feedback becomes a mechanism for personal and professional growth, encouraging employees to reflect on their performance. 

Feedback is equally important for leadership in UAE-based companies; scheduling feedback checkpoints and facilitating feedback channels become a two-way street. It enables the leadership to identify each employee's strengths and areas of improvement to help them further strategize a plan to utilize their full potential. 

4. Foster a Sense of Ownership

In the diverse landscape of the UAE workforce, employers must aim to cultivate a sense of ownership among employees to nurture a culture of recognition. Individuals who feel genuine ownership over their work are more likely to be deeply invested in its success. This ownership extends beyond completing tasks; it encompasses a commitment to the organization's goals and values. This heightened commitment naturally breeds a culture of recognition as team members begin to appreciate and acknowledge each other's efforts, recognizing their collective impact on the organization's success.  

As employees take ownership of their responsibilities, they are more likely to proactively recognize the achievements of their peers, creating a positive work environment where appreciation becomes a reciprocal and natural practice. This interconnected cycle of ownership and recognition strengthens the fabric of the workplace culture and contributes to the overall success and cohesion of the UAE workforce.

5. Employee Engagement Activities

Employers can leverage cultural diversity in the UAE workforce to create spaces where employees can share and celebrate their unique traditions. Cross-cultural team-building activities can further strengthen bonds among employees from various backgrounds and improve collaboration and mutual recognition. As an employer, you can highlight employee achievements using different languages to create a personalized touch and make employees feel acknowledged and valued.

Employers can plan engagement activities around unique cultural traditions and festivals to create a work environment that respects and celebrates each culture. For instance, South Asians comprise one-third of the entire UAE’s population, which necessitates the need to celebrate south asian religious and cultural festivals within the workplace and fosters a sense of inclusion and harmony amongst the team members. 

6. Preserve Emirati Values and Traditions

In light of Emiratisation, creating a culture that respects Emirati values and traditions is something employers can actively do. Make sure your events and activities reflect and preserve the rich Emirati culture. This includes celebrating traditional festivities and sharing the heritage with everyone, organizing team-building activities that align with Emirati values, and promoting unity and understanding among team members.

Internal communications within a UAE workplace should always highlight Emirati achievements and contributions to ensure that everyone in your team understands and respects these cultural aspects. By doing all this, you not only preserve Emirati traditions but also create a workplace culture that recognizes and values the unique contributions of your Emirati team members and the overall impact of Emirati values on your business. 

7. Stay Consistent 

Employers must remain consistent in their efforts to create a culture of recognition. Any effort toward embedding honest communication, feedback, or recognition activities is not a one-time thing and must be prioritized as a core value in the work culture. 

Consistency in recognizing employees sustains motivation and engagement and builds trust and transparency, essential for a cohesive and thriving work atmosphere. In the dynamic landscape of the UAE workplace, the consistent application of recognition principles contributes significantly to developing a positive and appreciative culture that transcends cultural diversities and nurtures a united and motivated workforce.

Work Culture & the Future of UAE

Establishing a robust recognition culture within UAE workplaces is key to shaping a transformative future for the nation's professional landscape. As the UAE continues to evolve as a dynamic hub attracting talents from diverse global backgrounds, fostering a culture where every employee feels seen, valued, and appreciated is crucial. Employers contribute to developing a positive and appreciative culture that transcends cultural differences. This helps companies motivate and engage employees to create an environment where trust and transparency thrive.

Looking ahead, the impact of a culture of recognition in UAE workplaces extends beyond the immediate benefits of enhanced employee morale and productivity. It sets the stage for a future where organizations are not merely collections of individuals but interconnected communities, collectively contributing to the growth and success of the nation. A workplace culture that values and celebrates diversity promotes mutual respect and recognizes individual and collective achievements enables innovation and excellence.

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