Abu Dhabi: When these employers talk about their approach towards employees taking up higher studies, it reveals why they are in the table of Great Place to Work, a global research firm doing annual benchmarking study about organisations with outstanding workplace cultures. To get employers’ perspective about people studying while working, Gulf News approached around a dozen companies that topped the 2016 table of Great Place to Work. Four of them responded.


“We encourage our people to pursue courses that will enable them to develop their career, while also keeping them up to speed with our constantly evolving industry.”

Sixty team members in 2017 advanced heir careers in UAE alone.

It’s a company that prides itself on the fact that most of their senior managers began their career from entry-level jobs in their organisation.

Its tuition assistance programme for study outside organisation and a policy of ‘promotion within’ have made this possible, according to a senior executive of FedEX, an American multinational courier delivery services company.

“In fact, most of our senior management began their careers in positions such as customer service representatives, couriers or package handlers,” said Darshana Shelke, HR Manager of FedEx Express Middle East.

“‘Promotion from within’ policy means that current team members are considered first for any job opening, before we expand our search externally,” she said.

Last year, nearly 60 team members in the UAE alone advanced their careers through either promotions or moving into new roles, Shelke said.


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■  Working and studying while pregnant
■  Beyond the comfort zone
■  Most postgraduate students are working people

The tuition assistance programme enables team members to continue their studies, or pursue higher education opportunities, she said. This assistance is available for training and certifications up to post-graduate level, for any area of study. “In the last year, 115 of our colleagues in the UAE received this support.”

The team members are given access to a wide range of resources through the company’s online Virtual Academy, enabling them to enhance their skills through either a focus on their current role, or to prepare them for a new opportunity or chance for promotion or advancement.

Weber Shadwick

‘One of the other factors that helped us rank in the top five of the 2016 Great Place to Work UAE, was our flexible work hours programme. ”

Some employers offer flexible working hours to employees, which help them pursue higher studies. Weber Shandwick is one of them.

“Besides cultivating a healthy working environment, and having an ‘open door’ policy, one of the other factors that helped us rank in the top five of the 2016 Great Place to Work UAE, was our flexible work hours programme, ” Ghaleb Zeidan, Managing Director, Weber Shandwick Abu Dhabi.

Through this programme, employees are free to leave the office early and work remotely as needed, and at the same time, attend to their families or pursue their education etc., he said.

With the market evolving at such a rapid pace, ongoing learning and development plays a crucial role in our ability to adapt to new changes and not get left behind, Zeidan said.

A number of people in his team has done masters programme and have earned executive certificates.

He encourages his colleagues to pursue higher studies. “However, adding educational responsibilities to an existing work-load and family duties can be gruelling, so I always stress the importance of finding that work-education-life balance,” Zeidan said.

Hilton Middle East Africa & Turkey

“In today’s world, learning does not end when one graduates.”

“Changes in technology and other aspects of professional life makes it absolutely necessary for individuals to continuously develop themselves. This is why lifelong learning is a key component of Thrive@Hilton, our employee value proposition,” said Koray Genckul, Senior Director of Human Resources at Hilton Middle East, Africa & Turkey.

If Hilton team members would like to take a short course relevant to their field, the company provides them with assistance in terms of time and resources, he said.

The company offers its employees industry-leading learning and development opportunities internally including access to Hilton University, an online platform offering over five million hours of training through 2,500 courses.

Hilton University also partners with eCornell to offer award-winning professional certificate programmes and courses in a wide variety of disciplines.

Launched in 2016, the E3 Leadership Development framework provides resources to enable employees to lead and succeed at all levels of the organisation.

“Also, this year, we launched a new Women’s Leadership curriculum for corporate team members to learn about the unique perspectives and experiences of women in the workforce, and to help our female Team Members successfully navigate their career journeys,” Genckul said.

Biz Group

“We believe that learning should be an ongoing journey and careers should form part of that journey.” 

BizGroup has a personalised learning and development plan for its empoyees.
“These plans aren’t put together by the HR department, working in isolation; each employee contributes to their own plan, based on their personal and professional objectives. This generates much higher levels of engagement, real behaviour changes and ultimately impacts both the business and the individual in a positive way,” said Hazel Jackson, CEO, Biz Group, an agency offering corporate training, teambuilding and employee engagement solutions.

“We believe that learning should be an ongoing journey and careers should form part of that journey,” Jackson said.

“We encourage employees to take control of their own learning and development rather than relying on the training we provide as an organisation. This approach increases learner engagement which in turn leads to more successful training courses,” she said.