Half of the UAE’s professionals plan to switch jobs next year, survey says

The trend is more prevalent among the country's younger generation of employees, according to health insurance company Cigna

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Half of professionals working in the UAE want to change their jobs in the next 12 months, a survey has found.

This compares with 31 per cent of employees globally who wish to change jobs in a year’s time.

The trend is more prevalent among the UAE’s younger generation of employees, with 57 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34 years planning to switch jobs in a year’s time.

In comparison, 45 per cent of UAE employees aged between 35 and 59 years intend to leave their jobs in the next 12 months, the survey by health insurance company Cigna found.

The company polled 18,043 people in 21 markets globally, of which 1,500 respondents were based in the UAE and 1,000 in Saudi Arabia. They were asked about their perceptions across five health indices, including physical, family, social, financial and work, in March and April this year.

The widening disconnect between employers and employees about a possible return to the office after Covid-19 and the emergence of a new hybrid working model could lead to a wave of resignations and increase worker disengagement, global consultancy McKinsey said in a report last month.

Globally, employees are leaving their jobs at a faster rate than ever before.

About 42 per cent of remote workers said if their company does not continue to offer options to work from home in the long term, they will look for a job that does, according to a March 2021 survey by financial services company Prudential.

“The UAE is an expat-driven market. If an expat employee loses a job here, it involves complete relocation with the family because the visa is tied to the employment contract,” said Jerome Droesch, chief executive of Cigna for Middle East and Africa and South-East Asia.

“The UAE is also a free-moving market compared with other markets in Europe, which are more regulated. Also, Covid-19-induced travel curbs forced employees belonging to certain nationalities to move back home because they wanted to be close to their families.”

The recently announced visa reforms will further improve the UAE’s work and living environment, Mr Droesch said.

However, the UAE’s overall well-being index consistently ranked higher than the global average since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Cigna.

Countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and Thailand, which have had high numbers of coronavirus cases and movement restrictions, have seen their well-being index fall below pre-pandemic levels, Mr Droesch said.

“The UAE has done extremely well in its capacity to manage policy, ease travel curbs, reopen most activities and provide a safe environment to the population,” he added.

Although workplace well-being in the UAE has returned to pre-pandemic levels, some concerns remain. Only 46 per cent of the UAE’s workforce said they are satisfied with their salary package and work benefits.

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Employers in the UAE will continue to adopt a mix of working models going forward
Jerome Droesch, chief executive of Cigna, Middle East and Africa and South-East Asia

“This could be because of cost-cutting measures introduced by certain businesses in 2020 because of pressure on their top-line revenue,” Mr Droesch said.

Also, 33 per cent of workers in the UAE felt uncared for by the employer, 34 per cent cited lack of mental health support, 39 per cent want employers to provide resilience training to improve mental health, while 58 per cent sought enhanced health insurance coverage, the survey findings show.

About 89 per cent of women in the UAE are stressed compared with 85 per cent globally, Cigna said. Uncertainty about the future, personal and family finances and lack of opportunities are the main contributors of stress, the survey revealed.

Despite their stress levels, women in the UAE are much more unlikely than men to consult with a mental health practitioner.

While stress levels in the UAE have improved, they are higher than the global average but are consistently on the decline, Cigna said.

Employers in the UAE will continue to adopt a mix of working models going forward, Mr Droesch said.

The pandemic has significantly increased the acceptance of the work-from-home concept, with 41 per cent of office-based respondents in the UAE preferring to work remotely full-time.

About 49 per cent of women prefer to work from home compared with 37 per cent of men, according to Cigna.

But while the respondents appreciate the flexibility, safety and cost savings that remote working offers, they feel that it often leads to overworking.

Distractions at home, longer working hours and weaker collaboration are seen as the biggest disadvantages of the work-from-home model, the survey revealed.

Updated: September 14th 2021, 6:11 AM
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