About 76 per cent of employees in the UAE have either changed jobs in the past year or are planning to do so in the next 12 months, as they seek higher salaries and better benefits, according to a new survey by Zurich Workplace Solutions and market research company YouGov.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents said higher salary packages motivated them to seek a new job, while 44 per cent wanted better employee benefits and 43 per cent sought professional development and skills growth, the survey found.
“As companies seek to attract and, importantly, retain talent in the UAE, they must accept that this is a mature job market where talent holds many of the cards,” said Sajeev Nair, senior executive officer at Zurich Workplace Solutions.
“Providing better benefits is a clear-cut way for companies to position themselves as employers of choice; yet our survey reveals that there is a mismatch in an employer’s definition of a benefit and what employees understand to be a tangible benefit.”
Statistics behind the UAE's hiring boom
The survey, conducted between September 29 and October 5, polled 2,021 respondents, of whom 1,006 are employers and 1,015 are employees.
The UAE jobs market has made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, helped by the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.
The UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, has undertaken several economic, legal and social reforms over the years to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers with new visas and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.
“The environment is now fertile for employers to capitalise and act to make the UAE a net importer of talent and net exporter of knowledge work,” Mr Nair said.
About 52 per cent of employers believe they are facing a talent shortage — with sales and marketing, and data science facing the biggest shortfall — indicating that organisations must readdress the benefits they are offering, the Zurich Workplace Solutions survey said.
However, 89 per cent of employees said they would switch jobs for the same pay if better benefits were on offer.
“The report demonstrates that workplace savings, unemployment insurance and education allowances are among the employee benefits most highly valued by employees,” the survey said.
In March, the Dubai government announced that non-Emirati employees working in government and the public sector can join a new savings pension plan.
The Dubai government savings scheme will offer expatriate employees a choice of capital protection investment plans, including Sharia-compliant options.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was the first entity in the UAE to set up a gratuity system when it introduced the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings plan, or Dews, in February 2020.
Meanwhile, workforce sustainability to attract the talent of tomorrow is important, with 50 per cent of employees saying that improving skills is critical, alongside recognising and rewarding achievement and listening to employees, the Zurich study found.
While 82 per cent of companies in the UAE believe they offer ample upskilling opportunities, 36 per cent of employees say professional development is lacking in their workplace and 53 per cent cite unhappiness with growth opportunities as a reason to change jobs.
Employees also see a need for organisations to demonstrate social leadership. For example, 36 per cent of employees surveyed said that they believed their organisation was not doing enough to address climate change.
Socially responsible initiatives supported by employees include waste reduction programmes and flexible working, the study found.
“Companies need to build personalised, engaging packages centred on the benefits that talent really wants, and they need to communicate these benefits better, both to potential recruits and existing employees who may not be getting the full picture of what the employer offers,” Mr Nair said.
“With the UAE committed to being one of the world’s great knowledge economies, the time to address future skills needs and attract top global talent is now.”