As long-standing consultants of choice to the human capital functions of a wide range of private and public sector businesses in the Kingdom of Bahrain, we fully understand and support the efforts that the EDB and others have made to establish the kingdom as a compelling choice when it comes to meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE). Bahrain is blessed with excellent hotels and restaurants offering good service, a wide selection of cuisines and beverages, a variety of meeting rooms and convention centres, and a range of historical and tourist sites that have few competitors in the region.
At Keypoint, we take a holistic view of human capital solutions. In addition to executive recruitment, HC solutions include surveys (such as employee engagement and client satisfaction surveys); benchmarking (including compensation and benefits); HR audits and manuals; employment contracts, as well as pre-employment background and reference checks; skills gap and training needs analyses; performance improvement plans; succession planning; interview skills; psychometric assessments; internships and graduate development programmes; recruitment handbooks; job descriptions and analyses; performance management review systems; KPI indicators; performance assessment for directors; and organisation and grading structures.
There are already numerous articles – not least in this edition of Gulf Insider – on the attractiveness of Bahrain as a MICE destination. Maybe it is worth thinking about why – beyond the economics of improving occupancy rates for the kingdom’s hotels and footfall for malls and the souq – MICE is actually good for Bahrain.
Why does MICE have a significant role to play in just about all of these areas?
Because human capital is impacted in every way by MICE. Let’s look at just some of the reasons that MICE – as an abstract idea – adds value to us here in Bahrain. First, what is the most effective way of sharing knowledge and upgrading skills? Bahrain is fortunate to have a workforce – both national and expatriate – that is generally young and talented. We do, however, sometimes work in a bit of a bubble, slightly removed from global leading practice. Conferences with international speakers are an excellent opportunity to refresh attitudes and learn about international leading practice, often at the same time as peers in other organisations. If there is sufficient interaction, global leading practice then becomes entrenched here as normal practice, helping to boost our national competitive advantage.
Secondly, MICE can be an extremely cost-effective way of incentivising employees. While there are many different ways of rewarding and recognising exceptional performance, they can generally be broadly categorised as either compensation or recognition incentives. Compensation incentives include pay rises, bonuses, profit sharing and stock options.
Recognition incentives can be as simple as thanking an employee for a job well done, announcing accomplishments in a public forum such as a company meeting, presenting employees with a certificate of achievement. Sending employees to a conference or an event is another way of recognising exceptional performance – and rewards with that exceptional performance by (hopefully) giving them the tools they need to further improve and develop as a result of the leading practice they have been exposed to.
A third way Bahrain’s human capital benefits from MICE is that it gives high potential employees a very useful opportunity to raise their profile – and in a non-threatening environment. Conferences and events are a fantastic opportunity to network and to build business relationships that – with due respect to social media – are very difficult to construct without face-toface connections. Those higher profiles of course work two ways – conferences can be a wonderful opportunity to target high-potential employees that you would like to recruit for your own organisation as well as for the competition to target your leaders in waiting! Meetings and even focus group discussions are also a wonderful opportunity to involve and empower non-traditional actors in the decisionmaking process.
I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that some of the exhibitions and conventions all over the world that I have attended over the 30 years I have worked in this industry have contributed massively to my career. The opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills has helped me to be better at what I do. The news earlier this week that the tender to build a new Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Sakhir – at a cost of BD79.1m – is an important sign of the importance that the government of Bahrain assigns to exhibitions and conventions. As Sakhir develops into a MICE destination in its own right, it is important to remember that MICE is not only an economic opportunity for the country.
MICE should also be a critical part of upgrading Bahrain’s human capital – perhaps the most important central theme of Bahrain’s Vision 2030.