Seven in 10 UAE employees are active job seekers, survey finds

Nearly half of all professionals rank work-life balance as most important, according to the PageGroup

New employees in the UAE are equally likely to be open to new opportunities as their more tenured counterparts, the survey found. Getty
Powered by automated translation

About seven in 10 (68 per cent) white-collar professionals in the UAE are active job seekers either looking for a new role or planning to do so in the next six months, a survey has revealed.

A further 27 per cent are on the fence about looking for a job but are waiting for the economy to improve or for the right opportunity to arise, according to recruiter PageGroup, the parent company of recruitment consultancy Michael Page.

Even new employees in the UAE are equally likely to be open to new opportunities as their more tenured counterparts, with more than half of those who started their job as recently as 2022 considered “active job seekers”, the survey revealed.

The company polled 70,000 working adults around the world and 625 respondents in the UAE between November 28 and January 17.

“The trends in the UAE mirror the sentiment of the global talent market – every region has seen a transformative change across all age groups, markets and industries,” said Nicholas Kirk, chief executive of PageGroup.

“It is clear there has been a universal reset of people’s relationships with their jobs. Work-life balance, a competitive salary and strong career progression prospects have become non-negotiable, and professionals are willing to leave their current roles to secure these elsewhere.

“These are not fleeting trends or reactionary responses to a period of turbulence. Rather, they are reshaping the workplace in a way that will subtly yet fundamentally change the way businesses attract and retain their talent.”

The UAE jobs market has made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, boosted by the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

In October, a study by jobs portal and market research agency YouGov found that 86 per cent of working professionals in the UAE had a positive career outlook for 2023.

Slightly more than half of all working professionals in the UAE (51 per cent) believe that a basic salary is the top factor that drives employee loyalty, a separate survey by and YouGov found in May.

This was followed by 39 per cent who said additional benefits offered by a company were more important for employee loyalty while 31 per cent picked an employee’s job fit, according to the survey’s findings.

Nearly half of all UAE respondents (49 per cent) ranked work-life balance as the most important part of a job, with 32 per cent willing to reject a promotion if they believe it will have a negative effect on their well-being, the PageGroup survey found.

Work-life balance is important to everyone, with 48 per cent of employees with children and 52 per cent of those without children also vouching for it, the findings showed.

Flexibility is the new basic alongside pay and career progress, the PageGroup said.

While more than half (54 per cent) of employees in the UAE are in full-time office roles, 11 per cent have fully remote jobs and 35 per cent are in hybrid roles.

The proliferation of hybrid roles makes it easier for people to look for jobs – and contacted by recruiters – while working from home, the PageGroup said.

Eight in ten UAE employees (80 per cent) said they were satisfied with their current workloads while 51 per cent were satisfied with their salaries and 50 per cent felt content in their roles, the survey revealed.

This shows that employees can be broadly happy in a role but still have one eye on their next move.

“Seismic shifts in employee attitudes and motivations have created a new talent landscape – no age group, country, or industry is unaffected. There’s no going back to the way things were pre-pandemic; the change we see today is here to stay,” said Pierre-Emmanuel Dupil, senior managing director for the Middle East and Africa at Michael Page.

“Job loyalty is now the exception, not the rule. Even generally happy employees are open to moving on to a better opportunity. The relentless resignation cycle will not be slowing down – change is the new status quo.”

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, FEB 24, 2016. Jason Leavy, MD of Edelman Dabo. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Reporter: Frank Kane /Section: BZ) Job ID: 27616 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20160224_JASONLEAVY_004.JPG
Updated: June 08, 2023, 7:45 AM