Companies in the UAE are preparing to ramp up hiring as they expect revenue to surge as much as 50 per cent in the next 12 months amid a strong economic rebound from the pandemic-driven slowdown.
Three out of four companies in the UAE rank finding the right talent as crucial to their growth plans, an HSBC survey found.
“Executives believe the battle for talent is vital to driving sustainable profitability — particularly as companies bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic — with almost 90 per cent of companies surveyed in the UAE seeing a strong relationship between investment in the workforce and business success,” said Daniel Howlett, head of commercial banking for HSBC in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
The HSBC Navigator report, which is based on a survey of more than 2,000 leading businesses across the globe, found that companies in the UAE, on average, are aiming for roughly 25 per cent revenue growth over the next 12 months. Eight in 10 companies surveyed are already making significant investments in hiring, upskilling or training.
About 97 per cent of business leaders in the UAE agree that optimal working arrangements in the future would include some form of remote working. Their views are in line with their peers abroad, as 95 per cent of global executives also envision some form of hybrid working model.
More than 50 per cent UAE businesses are supporting employees with digital skills training, and 44 per cent of executives are providing work-life balance programmes to prepare employees for the future of hybrid working.
“The business community in the UAE is one of the most dynamic in the world, always quick to adapt to changing business environments, which makes this prioritisation of employee well-being, training, skills development and flexible working a clear indication of the global trend,” Mr Howlett said.
The UAE has bounced back strongly from the pandemic-driven slowdown, which tipped the global economy into its deepest recession since the 1930s. The International Monetary Fund expects the country's economy to expand 3.1 per cent in 2021, higher than the Central Bank of the UAE's estimate of 2.1 per cent this year and 4.2 per cent in 2022, according to the regulator’s second-quarter review.
The UAE is one of the most vaccinated nations in the world with more than 20.2 million doses administered, enough to cover almost 94 per cent of the population, Bloomberg’s global vaccine tracker data shows. Government economic stimulus worth Dh388bn since the onset of the pandemic has also supported the economy, already a hub in the Arab world for entrepreneurs, technology start-ups and global talent looking for growth opportunities.
Forty-seven per cent of business leaders surveyed said salaries will be a key factor in attracting and retaining talent in the UAE as the economic rebound accelerates.
Employers in the UAE plan to give their staff an average annual pay rise of 4 per cent next year as the labour market improves following pandemic-induced job redundancies and salary cuts. This compares with a 3 per cent salary increase offered, on average, to employees in the UAE this year, according to a survey global adviser Willis Towers Watson.
HSBC said business leaders in the country are focused on four key areas: upskilling their workforce in response to emerging macroeconomic trends (47 per cent), management and leadership in a hybrid environment (41 per cent), cyber security (40 per cent) and environmental, social and governance frameworks (38 per cent).
“The future working environment is still taking shape and it is already clear to executives that the changes to come are likely to have a profound impact on both the engagement of staff and the profitability of the companies that people choose to work in,” Mr Howlett said.
UAE businesses — about 67 per cent — are the most confident globally about driving innovation in product and customer service over the next 12 months. Seventy-four per cent are optimistic about improving customer experience, the third-highest percentage globally after Mexico at 77 per cent and China at 77 per cent.
This is “particularly relevant when bearing in mind that Expo 2020 — the global showcase of innovation and ideas that shape the world in which we live — has just begun here in the UAE”, Mr Howlett said.
“Innovations that create opportunities, drive mobility and nourish sustainability are key themes at Expo 2020 and they align well with what UAE businesses say will enhance their competitive advantage regionally and globally.”