Middle East jobs: 30% of employees plan to look for a new role this year

The 'Great Resignation' trend is continuing in the region, as workers prioritise flexibility and wellbeing in the workplace, PwC survey finds

Having opportunities to improve their skills is a priority for employees in the Middle East, a survey by PwC has found. Getty Images
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About 30 per cent of employees in the Middle East are “extremely” or “highly likely” to look for a new job in the next year, signalling that the “Great Resignation” trend is far from over, according to a survey by global consultancy PwC.

Middle East professionals are prioritising opportunities to improve their skills, as well as seeking transparency, flexibility and wellbeing in the workplace, the Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, which polled 1,565 workers across the region, found.

“In the age of the Great Resignation, it is imperative for employers to keep pace with the demands and wishes of talent or they will look elsewhere to get what they desire from their workplace,” Randa Bahsoun, a partner at PwC Middle East, said on Tuesday.

“With 30 per cent of respondents in the Middle East very likely to look for a new job within the next year, versus 19 per cent globally, factors such as flexible working, trust and transparency, wellbeing and promoting a culture of openness are increasingly integral to the war for talent.”

The Great Resignation was coined in 2021 by Anthony Klotz, a psychologist and professor of business administration at Texas A&M University in the US.

This phrase refers to the millions of workers around the world who are resigning from their jobs to seek a more flexible work-life balance, after working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The jobs market in the UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, has recovered strongly from the pandemic-induced slowdown on the back of the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

In February, a survey by jobs portal Bayt.com found that about 76 per cent of UAE employers plan to expand their workforce this year.

In a separate survey, two thirds of professionals in the UAE will actively look for new jobs in 2022, as business confidence and hiring activity return to pre-pandemic levels, recruitment company Robert Walters said in February.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of respondents to the PwC survey from Generation Z ― the age group covering those born between 1997 and about 2012 ― said they preferred a remote full-time working arrangement, with just 15 per cent of the cohort opting to work in an office.

While 63 per cent of respondents said they can perform their jobs remotely, 28 per cent admitted to working full-time in person — more than double the global average, the report found.

“[This] highlights the complexity of adjusting work models to suit all employees,” PwC said.

“The potential mismatch between employees’ and employers’ expectations is evident in the Middle East, where 31 per cent of employees, compared with 18 per cent globally, said their companies want them to work full-time in person.”

Only 23 per cent of workers preferred to work in an office, while 77 per cent would choose a hybrid model that gave them more flexibility, it added.

At 54 per cent, Middle East employees are also more likely to ask for a pay rise compared with 35 per cent of their counterparts elsewhere.

Fifty-four per cent of those polled also said they are “extremely or very likely” to ask for a promotion, almost double the global average, PwC said.

However, it is the region’s millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, who are the most likely age group to request both a pay rise and a promotion — or leave to seek a new employer.

“It is vital for employers across the region to identify the key drivers of employee turnover and retention,” Ms Bahsoun said.

“Increasingly, this is a question not just of financial reward alone but also personal fulfilment and how the wider values, governance and impacts of the organisation affect the culture and opportunities in the workplace.

“In a time of great recent volatility, both the way of work and the skills needed have transformed and employers must adapt to ensure that their workforce is fit for the future.”

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Updated: June 22, 2022, 12:56 PM
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