Healthy growth prospects for the new year, coupled with a drive to remain competitive in the market, has meant that employers across the UAE are increasingly open to the idea of raising base salaries for their employees.
According to data from the latest World Economic Outlook, the UAE economy is set for a healthy growth in the coming months, with a growth of three per cent expected in 2019, due in part to successful economic diversification. Robert Half's Salary Guide for 2019 found that 89 per cent of CEOs in the UAE are feeling confident about growth prospects and expect to achieve growth over the next 12 months.
"Confidence is increasing for businesses in the Middle East. More than 42 per cent of CEOs are very confident in their growth prospects over the next year, and 40 per cent expect the outlook to remain positive over the next three years," said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director, Robert Half UAE.
He added: "Digitisation, automation and artificial intelligence continue to transform the world of work and are quickly becoming necessary in meeting the needs of a rapidly evolving market. Concerns regarding available talent are causing employers to focus on improving retention. The top two initiatives in place are adding more benefits to remuneration packages and offering flexible work options."
According to the new guide by Robert Half, 51 per cent of business leaders in Dubai and 45 per cent in Abu Dhabi say that their primary concern is how an increasingly competitive marketplace is shaping the workforce. The top concerns for UAE managers in 2019 include talent management, the economic climate, globalisation, the evolving world of work, and the implementation of automation.
To achieve the growth that they are hoping for, CEOs are looking to hire and retain more skilled workers. However, the ongoing war for talent has meant that 49 per cent of organisations in the UAE are saying that they find it significantly challenging to find qualified professionals. Almost 19 per cent of organisations admitted to raising their base-level salaries for eight out of 10 new hires in an effort to secure the top talent.
Similarly, Mercer's annual Total Remuneration Survey revealed that the overall salary in the UAE increased by 4.5 per cent in 2018 across industries, with the highest increase shown at five per cent in the life sciences industries. Furthermore, the annual salary increases in the UAE for 2019 is forecasted to grow by 4.8 per cent, one of the highest in the region.
Notably, real wage growth (salary increase minus inflation rate) is also expected to steadily rise in the region.
"With the UAE's vision of diversifying away from oil, we're seeing new trends in industries with regards to employee compensation, hiring and talent. Sectors such as the high tech and life sciences industries have evolved due to the growing population and the need for digital transformation across the entire market, which is generating more employment opportunities and salary increases," said Ted Raffoul, career products leader for the Mena region at Mercer.
Mercer's research found that the overall hiring outlook in the UAE is positive with close to 50 per cent of companies looking to increase their headcount and 45 per cent looking to maintain headcount. Additionally, only 3 per cent of companies have stated salary freezes in 2018 compared to 10 per cent in 2016. The survey also looked at talent trends in the GCC region, and found that 78 per cent of organisations expect an increase in competition for talent.
Furthermore, 47 per cent of organisations noted that there aren't enough experts in niche fields, and that scarcity of required talent may pose a potential challenge.
The hunt for specialised talent, and employers across the region willing to negotiate higher base salaries, has also meant that many employees are expressing an interest in switching jobs. Bayt.com's latest survey revealed that more than four in five or 83 per cent of professionals have considered changing their career path completely, with 64.2 per cent saying that it is very easy to change jobs in the region.
However, shifting to a new job or choosing a totally different career, isn't always about the salary. When asked why professionals may change their careers entirely, 'to find their real passion' was the most common reason, followed by 'better compensation'.
"Changing careers is a big step but if the job seeker has thought it through, they can set themselves up for a future that aligns with their personal goals and financial expectations. Professionals switch jobs all the time - often the switch is to something related, and other times the career path swerves in a completely different direction," said Suhail Masri, vice-president of employer solutions at Bayt.com.
By Rohma Sadaqat
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