As previously highlighted, KSA has a fastgrowing population with 65% being under 30. Although this essentially provides a good sized pool of potential employees, there are significant challenges in executing an effective HR strategy in the country. Saudi nationals are prioritised in almost every area of the economy, however some sectors are more attractive than others to this group which creates additional obstacles to businesses looking to recruit on a sustainable basis. Strict government quotas, ratios to expat employees and barriers to releasing nationals from jobs puts much of the power with local employees, who can be quick to move for enhanced packages and difficult to move if under-performing. Attempting to “game” the system is likely to fail in the medium to long-term since the government has significant powers to restrict the activities of companies seen to be noncompliant.
Establishing an “employer of choice” strategy and reputation with clear opportunities for development and advancement for locals is critical for businesses with long-term ambitions in KSA. Building relationships with the leading educational institutions is also a route to building a robust local-employee base. A thorough evaluation and recruitment process is also essential, with clear probation periods and performance targets to identify those that will add-value to the organisation over time.