Hiring and Staffing Practices at Tawuniya Insurance Company

The high costs that are associated with recruiting qualified new hires are well documented and it is therefore vitally important that companies of all types and sizes perform these activities in an effective and efficient fashion. Many insurance companies competing in the Middle East, though, face a wide range of regulatory and cultural restrictions that must be complied with, making efficiency a particular challenge. One company that has managed to address the challenges effectively is Tawuniya Insurance Company of Saudi Arabia, which is the focus of this study. This paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly and organizational literature concerning Tawuniya Insurance Company to determine its hiring and staffing practices and how these procedures have contributed to the company’s success over the years. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

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Review and Analysis

Organizational history

Today, Tawuniya is a Saudi public joint stock company with an emphasis on motor, marine, fire, medical, engineering, aviation, takaful, and casualty insurance (Tawuniya, 2010). As to the foregoing penultimate category, Ala Houmodi advises that, “Takaful is a rapidly growing segment of the Islamic financial market. Pursuant to takaful, a group of Muslims agrees to protect one another in the case of casualty or loss by pooling their resources through making regular payments in the form of premiums to be invested in commercial products deemed permissible under the rules of Islamic finance” (2007, p. 606). According to Karam (2010), though, there are some significant religious and cultural constraints involved that affect the company’s ability to remain competitive. For instance, Karam notes that, “The sector’s potential is shackled mainly by the predominant view in the Islamic kingdom that buying an insurance policy would indicate a lack of faith and therefore contradicts Islamic law, or sharia, which forms the basis of laws in the country” (2010, para. 4).

Founded just over a quarter century ago, the Company for Cooperative Insurance (hereinafter alternatively “Tawuniya” or “the company”) marked a new chapter in the history of the insurance industry in Saudi Arabia. For example, according to the company’s promotional literature, “The establishment of Tawuniya in 1986 was not considered a normal occurrence in the Saudi insurance market; it was the steppingstone to create a viable insurance industry in Saudi Arabia” (Integrity, 2010, para. 1). This observation is congruent with media reports that indicate, “Tawuniya is considered the authority on insurance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most notably by the media and the government, and is regularly asked to comment on industry issues, and develop or vet government policies for the industry” (Tawuniya Insurance, 2010). According to the company’s most recent annual report (2009), Tawuniya was “established in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Royal Decree Number M/5 and incorporated on January 18, 1986” (p. 31).


The company currently employs 740 workers (Tawuniya technical analysis, 2010).


The company’s success in delivering high quality insurance products can be easily discerned from its recent performance indicators as shown in Table 1 and illustrated graphically in Figure 1 below.

Table 1

Total Revenues for Tawuniya: 2005-2009 (in million Saudi Riyals):













Figure 1. Total Revenues for Tawuniya: 2005-2009 (in million Saudi Riyals):

As can be seen from Figure 1 above, the company’s total revenues for 2009 increased a respectable 36% over 2008, attributable in large part to an increase in net premiums earned (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009).

Reserves and Reserve policy

The company’s technical reserves increased by more than half (52%) during 2009, amounting to SR 1,838 million vs. SR 1,208 million in 2008 (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009).


The company has clearly benefited from careful management in recent years. For example, Tawuniya recently received an “A” rating and “stable” outlook from Standard and Poor’s for the fifth year in a row (Tawuniya receives ‘A’ rating from S&P, 2010). The company’s leadership recently reported that “Tawuniya does not plan to tap the debt market after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services revised its outlook on the firm to stable from negative” (Karam, 2010, para 1). A company spokesman also emphasized that, “Standard and Poor’s says our capital adequacy is good, we told them that ‘it is better than good’. There is an issue of interpretation of assets. it’s not a black and white exercise” (quoted in Karam, 2010 at para. 2). Nevertheless, Standard & Poor’s confirmed the company’s ‘A’ rating with regards to its long-term counterparty credit and insurer financial strength ratings on Tawuniya (Karam, 2010). The company’s most recent annual report also notes that Tawuniya was in full compliance with applicable governance regulations during 2009, except for the following:

1. CMA guidelines suggest practicing a cumulative voting mechanism in the election of Board members. However, the company follows the Ministry of Commerce regulations in this regard.

2. CMA guidelines suggest the formation of a separate Nominations & Remunerations Committee of the Board to perform tasks related to nomination of members to the Board and to provide recommendations related to the remuneration of Board members. However, at present these responsibilities are assigned to the Executive Committee of the Board (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 19).

Revenue/overall organizational budget

According to the company’s most recent annual report, general, administrative, selling and marketing expenses for 2008 amounted to SR 185,415,000 (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009).

Market share

The company is in direct competition with 25 other insurance companies listed on the Saudi stock market (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009). By end of year 2008, the volume of the Saudi insurance industry reached SR 10.9 billion, of which the company accounted for approximately 4.9%; however, the company emphasizes that it has taken steps recently to increase its market share in the future (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009).

Investment policy

The company notes that its main focus is on returning as much return on investment to its shareholders as possible. For instance, the company report that, “As its name implies, Tawuniya transacts insurance business in accordance with the ‘Cooperative Insurance Concept’ which is approved by the Saudi Council of Senior Ulema. Based on this principle, the surplus resulting from insurance operations is returned back to the policyholders along with the indemnities paid to customers exposed to damages due to risks covered” (Tawuniya Overview, 2010).

Legal structure

The company’s most recent annual report indicates that Tawuniya is a “Saudi joint stock company established in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Royal Decree Number M/5 and incorporated on January 18, 1986 corresponding to 8 Jumad Awal 1406H under Commercial Registration No. 1010061695” (Annual report, 2008:42). The company is headquartered in Riyadh (Annual report, 2008).


Tawuniya owns shares in four different associates as shown in Table 1 and illustrated graphically in Figure 1 below.

Table 1

Shares in Associates Owned by Tawuniya


United Insurance Company

Cooperative Real Estate Investment Company

Waseel Application Service Provider

Najm Inusrance Services Company

Share of Tawuniya Ownership





Source: Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 16

Figure 1. Share of Tawuniya Ownership in Associates


In response to the dynamic marketplace in which it competes, Tawuniya has implemented a number of human resource related policies to ensure that is has the best and brightest talent available. For instance, the company reports that, “In a fast changing environment, developing human resources is vital to enhance the level of performance, promote employees’ skills, and achieve customer satisfaction” (Trained staff, 2010, para 3). To help achieve the goal of recruiting and retaining the best talent available, Tawuniya has provided a wide range of training opportunities for its employees. According to the company’s promotional literature, “This goal is realized by regularly organizing intensive in-house, as well as external, training courses, workshops and seminars that address various subjects of insurance, management, information technology, marketing and other relevant areas. Therefore, Tawuniya has created the Knowledge Development Center (KDC) which caters to these demands” (Trained staff, 2010, para 4). In addition, the company’s most recent annual report points out that, “The company conducted specialized training courses to enhance the level of professionalism in managing its projects” (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 14).


In the midst of recent economic developments, the insurance industry in Saudi Arabia has been caught between the need to provide comprehensive coverage for its policyholders while complying with the strict regulatory guidelines established by the Saudi government. In this regard, Chaudry reports that, “This unusual condition delinked processes that have, historically, been inextricably connected: in Saudi Arabia, growth in investments and consumption had little to do with domestic savings and productivity” (1997, p 263). These policies have also affected the ability of insurance companies competing in the Saudi marketplace. For instance, Chaudry also notes that, “Capital abundance stymied the development of important ancillary institutions, such as a formal insurance industry and a stock market. Moreover, it forestalled the emergence of effective regulatory mechanisms, resulting in the growth of informal and unregulated financial markets” (p. 263). Notwithstanding these constraints, the company is activity promoting its product lines of insurance which include insurance coverage for fire and property, home, motor, miscellaneous accidents, engineering, maritime, medical, money, fidelity, aviation, and all liabilities insurance including medical malpractice (Tawuniya Overview, 2010).

Environmental scan

The Company for Cooperative Insurance cites the origins of its name and how it affects their corporate culture: “Tawuniya is the simplification of the Arabic word for ‘co-operative’ and was already established amongst the related customer base by this name. The new name and identity takes ownership of this insurance category and evokes a strong emotional connection to customers as ‘co-operative,’ which is the only accepted form of Islamic insurance” Tawuniya Overview, 2010, para. 3).

According to Chaudry, though, the enormous amounts of oil-based revenues flowing through Saudi Arabia’s coffers has created a very real need for informed and well-managed insurance companies that are capable of competing in an increasingly competitive financial market. In this regard, Chuadry notes that, “The financial systems that developed in [Saudi Arabia] in the 1970s was the product of capital abundance, not scarcity. Unlike most countries in the initial stages of economic development, [Saudi Arabia] had massive excesses in investment and commercial capital during the boom, which obviated the necessity of aggregating domestic savings” (p. 262). Likewise, Cordesman and Obaid (2005) report that, “The Saudi economy has been growing rapidly since the early 2000s, and reached as high as 6.4 in 2003” (p. 366). Analysts in the U.S. also note that, “Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 20% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings” (Saudi Arabia, 2010, para. 3).

The company’s geographical concentration of investments is shown in Table 2 and illustrated graphically in Figure 2 below.

Table 2

Geographical Aspects of Tawuniya Insurance Coverage: 2008-2009

Area of Coverage



Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



United States






Far East



Rest of the world



Figure 2. Geographical Aspects of Tawuniya Insurance Coverage: 2008-2009

Source: Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 52

As can be clearly discerned from Figure 2 above, the overwhelming majority of the company’s insurance coverage is situated in Saudi Arabia, but Tawuniya has plans to extend its operations domestically and abroad. As a progressive and well managed company, the leadership at Tawuniya recognizes that the costs that are associated with the recruiting, hiring and training process are enormous. According to Sims, “Cost is an important factor in recruitment. Recruiting efforts by an organization are expensive” (2002, p. 110). Likewise, the costs associated with failure to take the steps necessary to retain qualified personnel are equally staggering. In this regard, Sujanksy emphasizes that, “Consider what it costs every time an employee departs. You shell out the cost of rehiring and retraining the replacement. Studies put this lost-employee price tag at between 70% to 200% of that person’s annual salary. What’s more, your company suffers a brain drain with the departed employee’s institutional memory” (2007, p. 9).

To help overcome these constraints to productivity and performance, an important part of Tawuniya’s business model has always been its emphasis on developing a workplace that is attractive to talented and qualified candidates. In this regard, the company emphasizes that, “Part of Tawuniya’s mission is to be the employer of choice. One of the Company’s goals is to provide the most professional working environment in the Saudi insurance market” (Teamwork, 2010, para. 2). The company’s business model also stresses the need to recruit and retain the country’s most qualified and talented candidates. For instance, the company specifically states that, “Tawuniya provides enhanced operations and employment conditions compatible to current demands in Saudi society and the business arena. The Company offers benefits designed to attract well educated Saudi’s [sic], who contribute positively to the overall working environment” (Teamwork, 2010, para. 3).

Take on consideration

The company offers new hires the opportunity to participate in a profit-sharing plan wherein the company invests a portion of the employee’s wages; in addition, the company also budgets for employee end-of-service benefits (Annual Report, 2009).

Requisition rate/workforce planning

The company’s requisition rate and workforce planning strategies are not disclosed; however, according to the company’s promotional literature, “The quality services of Tawuniya do not solely depend on the quality of its insurance coverage’s. It also depends on the Company’s most significant asset, its human resources” (Trained staff, 2010, para 2).

Recruitment staff productivity

The company has aggressively pursued the recruitment of qualified Saudi talent for its operations in recent years. According to the company most recent annual report, “Tawuniya continued its efforts to preserve the ratio of Saudization and participated actively in the local career days organized by seven universities, institutes, and colleges” (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 18).

Cost per hire

The following calculations are based on the company’s published figures for advertising costs in 2009, with no referral bonuses, relocation or travel costs being incurred or taken into account in the analysis based on a 10% headcount increase in 2009 and with 10% of the total advertising costs being attributable to recruitment:

Advertising costs:

SR 655,700

Total new hires:


Total cost per hire:

SR 8,860 (or about U.S.$2,362.67)

Source analysis

Pursuant to the company stated policy of seeking to increase the number of Saudis employed, the most recent annual report emphasizes that, “The percentage of Saudi nationals within the company represented more than 73% of the total workforce” (Tawuniya Annual Report, 2009, p. 18).

Time to fill

No information is provided by the company concerning time required to fill any specific position within Tawuniya.

Quality of hire

The company emphasizes that it places a high priority on attracting and retaining the most qualified personnel to ensure its continuing success. In this regard, Tawuniya notes that, “Tawuniya has designed comprehensive development programs to retain highly qualified staff. The Company is aware that the process of human resources development should be dynamic enough to reflect developments in the insurance market and keep pace with Tawuniya’s needs” (Trained staff, 2010, para 3).


The research showed that the Company for Cooperative Insurance, or Tawuniya, was founded in 1986. The research also showed that Tawuniya is a Saudi public joint stock company that focuses on motor, marine, fire, medical, engineering, aviation, takaful, and casualty insurance, and competes with 24 other insurance companies listed on the Saudi stock exchange. In just over a quarter of a century, Tawuniya has emerged as a leading Saudi insurance company due in large part to the careful management of the assets entrusted to the company, achieving an enviable 36% increase in revenues in 2009 compared to 2008. The research was also consistent in showing that the company’s emphasis on hiring the most qualified and talented employees was responsible in large part for this continuing success, and the company’s human resource services have been highly effective in their recruitment efforts.


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