Oliver Wyman report indicates imbalances between GCC public, private workforce

A holistic approach can help promote private sector employment amongst citizens in the GCC and rebalance the workforce between the public and private sectors, according to a new Oliver Wyman report.

Titled, Is Money All That Matters: The Three Lenses of Value to Drive a Workforce Transformation, the report indicates that a nation’s human-capital policies must account for extrinsic, intrinsic and cultural factors to drive successful national-scale transformation and recommends a holistic five-step framework to achieve this. The framework is designed to address labour market barriers and allow GCC countries to attract talent from the national pool towards the private sector or plug employment gaps.

According to the report, there remains a significant imbalance between the private and public sectors workforce shares in the GCC region. For example, the largest economy, Saudi Arabia, sees 67% of Saudi nationals working in the public sector, compared to an average of just 18% for OECD countries. The report suggests that this imbalance is often attributed to extrinsic rewards. Recent data shows average monthly compensation of around $3,000 for Saudis in the public sector but just $2,000 in the private sector.

Similar imbalances exist in non-wage financial benefits and ancillary benefits such as working hours and holidays, although the differences vary according to factors such as type of work and seniority. But there are other lenses to consider as well, the intrinsic motivation and the cultural context.

According to the report, workforce transformation is essential to encouraging citizens to take up private-sector roles in countries where the public sector is particularly attractive, such as in parts of the Middle East. The framework will also enhance the region’s ability to incubate a productive private or non-oil economy, as skilled labour is a key production factor.

Abhishek Sharma, Partner in the Public Sector and Policy Practice at Oliver Wyman

Commenting on the insights, Abhishek Sharma, Partner in the Public Sector and Policy Practice at Oliver Wyman said, “By combining traditional policy and programme management tools, it will be possible to design more attractive, efficient, and effective systems for drawing talent into different sectors of the economy and to firms that have particular needs. Through this approach, governments can break down their most complex labour market challenges, re-examine them through a new set of lenses, and discover solutions that they may not have explored before.”

“A cross-sectoral collaboration between private industry, government and other key labour market stakeholders is also essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the framework and with the cohesive and politically streamlined polities such as the GCC states, this type of collaboration may be relatively feasible,” Sharma added.