Buzzing job market expected as two-thirds of employees plan new roles in H1

A third of UAE employees will look for a new role in the first six months of this year, as confidence in the recovering economy takes hold. 

  • 34% of employees will look for a new role in the first six months of 2022 – in addition to the 31% who started their search before the new year
  • Confidence in the UAE’s economic resurgence is driving job moves, although salaries and benefits remain significant factors
  • Flexible working becomes an essential consideration for both retention and attraction, as three in five (59%) admit they would accept a lower salary for greater flexibility

    Nearly two-thirds (65%) of employees in the UAE are planning to look for a new role in the first six months of 2022, as the drive for higher salaries and better benefits takes hold. 

    According to new research from specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Half, employees are feeling positive about their job prospects for 2022. In addition to the three in 10 (31%) workers who were seeking new roles at the end of 2021, 15 per cent will start their search for a new job with the new year. A further 19 per cent will look for a new role in Q2, which for many will follow an annual bonus payment. 

    Increased confidence in the UAE economy is driving ambition amongst nearly half (46%) of those who will look for a new role, who were previously waiting until the economy was more stable. A quarter (25%) admitted that they have been remaining in their current role to maintain financial security while the pandemic continued to create uncertainty, however, it seems that those concerns are rapidly dissipating. 

    While this level of movement is healthy, and a good sign for the local economy, it does mean that employers should prepare for employees to move on – or put additional measures in place to aid retention. Only 18 per cent of jobseekers say there is nothing their organisation could do to entice them to stay, which suggests that most employers will be able to avoid heavy losses if they take action soon.

    More than a third (36%) of those who will look for a new role during 2022 feel that their current employer does not listen to their wants and needs. While it is true that nearly three in five (57%) are looking for a higher salary and 54 per cent would like better benefits, these are not the only things that can make a difference. 

    Flexible working is a significant driver for many employees, and while many employers are allowing employees to choose their own environment, a third (34%) of those thinking of moving on say that they do not have a say in their working arrangements. This is more of a priority for some employees than remuneration, with three in five (59%) agreeing that they would take a pay cut in exchange for more flexibility.

    While employers may not be keen on the idea of allowing workers more freedoms, there are clear benefits – across all workers, not only those seeking new employment – 86 per cent agree that organisations need to offer more flexibility to retain staff. With so many employees looking for move on, leaders should also consider the benefits for attracting new hires, as more than three-quarters (78%) of workers believe that businesses will have a hard time finding replacement staff without flexible working on the table. 

    Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director for Robert Half Middle East, said: “Offering your current and prospective employees competitive pay and benefits is important for both retention and attraction but offering flexibility through remote or hybrid working is becoming more and more important – especially when you’re employing expats. 

    “Appetite to move to the UAE, especially from the UK, is on the rise, but in a competitive market offering flexible working arrangement is one way to improve your business’ attractiveness. Multinational companies tend to be more flexible, but locally-owned companies really need to step up their game if they want to attract and retain staff.”

    Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide benchmarks remuneration for more than 100 professional services roles across the UK, so that employers can find out the average salaries on offer elsewhere, to ensure that they can make competitive offers to current and prospective employees.