Offering citizens complete job security is a two-sided coin.

Mohammed Nosseir is the Managing Director of Global Marketing Consultancy, Middle East Region. He specializes in consulting to clients in the consumer goods and retail industries, primarily in the areas of growth and market entry strategies, target segmentation, value proposition and market potential assessment. He has worked and managed projects for leading international and regional companies in the Middle East and Europe. He has published several articles on marketing strategies and government reforms in a number of global and regional publications. Mohammed holds a BA from Ain Shams University in Cairo and is a Stanford (CDDRL) Fellow 2008, an Eisenhower Fellow 2009, and an Aspen Seminar Fellow 2011.

Millions of Arab executives and employees are blessed with lifetime job security! While this privilege exists on a large scale in the Arab world, it is certainly a flaw in the mechanism of our working societies that leads to shrinking any room for creativity and innovation and reduces the possibility of having a truly progressive economy.

The secure government jobs that most Arab nations offer their citizens might be better labeled as “bribes”; employees obtain permanent jobs, have the option of shortening their workdays, are not held accountable and enjoy a work environment that is conducive to socializing.

Technology, that in theory should be used to enhance employees’ productivity, has worked to transform the socializing among employees into a more digitalized, broader form of entertainment. This is a common practice in many Arab government entities, although we often refuse to admit it.

In fact, life is not about securing jobs. It is about delegating the task of addressing our problems to the most suitable citizens, capable of decoding our socioeconomic challenges.

We Arabs are surrounded by and live with several challenges. We need to work on empowering citizens to better address those challenges on their own and not rely on governments to resolve them.

A few Arab nations that are blessed with visionary rulers are dealing with their challenges quite successfully; the great majority, however, are hampered by bureaucratic mechanisms.

The state-controlled economy is further expanding the permanent job phenomenon by employing more citizens at the expense of enabling entrepreneurial entities that are willing to take greater risks to grow the economy. Arab governments not only need to privatize their assets but also their services and even the states’ economic visions.

Today, the issue that state assets could bring more revenues if managed by the private sector is a less debatable one, which leaves us with the argument that the private sector could do better still if it could provide government services to citizens.

Offering citizens complete job security is a two-sided coin. It gives people security (that they need)—but with security comes the possibility of employees adopting a reckless work attitude, thinking less and, of course, producing little.

Permanent jobs lead to a substantial decline in employees’ productivity and efficiency, favoring a few less-qualified executives at the expense of the overall potential of the society’s workforce. A glimpse of job insecurity stimulates people to stretch their capabilities to perform better. Thus, pushing private sector entities to compete with one another will benefit the entire society.

In their current completely secure jobs, executives are framed by their daily routines; they cope well with the demands of government bureaucracy but fall short of offering genuinely good services. Additionally, competition will work on expanding and enhancing the capability and performance of many hasty government executives.

Addressing challenges scientifically helps citizens to advance their thinking skills; jobs, on the other hand, are meant to serve bureaucracy. Challenges inspire people to think constructively and to make better decisions, which is what we need in this world. Arabs need more challenges and fewer ‘permanent jobs.’

If Arab governments are willing to apply this philosophy, many mechanisms could be introduced to monitor the efficiency of government employees, inducing them to improve their performance and enhance their achievements—instead of just doing their jobs.