84% of UAE professionals want to be challenged at work
January 30th, 2018, Antonia Stockwell

84% of UAE professionals want to be challenged at work

Nowadays, what makes a company or an organization an ideal place to work for in the UAE depends on many different elements that may extend beyond salary and benefits. In partnership with YouGov, Bayt.com, the region’s leading job site, explored this topic with a new study entitled “The Ideal Workplace in the Middle East and North Africa”. According to the findings, being challenged at work is ranked as the top job attribute that UAE professionals desire.

What matters most to UAE professionals

In addition to seeking a challenging work environment, the adoption of advanced technology in the workplace is of great importance, according to 83% of UAE respondents. While only 46% of companies reportedly promote the use of advanced technology to a large extent, this factor is also of great importance for job seekers. In fact, 87% of job seekers say that their potential company should use advanced technology.

Work-life balance comes in third place for UAE employees. 82% of respondents believe that this is an important factor in any work environment, just ahead of fair evaluations, and innovation (81%). However, this is not the same from the perspective of job seekers. According to 82% of job seekers in the UAE, innovation is the second most important factor in a potential company. That said, only 37% of respondents agree that their workplaces currently promote innovation to a large extent.

Other elements that were considered important in a workplace include fair evaluation systems (81% of employees say it is important), transparency in communication (79% of employees say it is important), and team building and fun activities (76% of employees say it is important).

Besides attractiveness, retention is an element that many organizations strive to master. When asked about factors that mostly drive loyalty, the top responses were ‘opportunities for long-term career advancement’ (according to 37% of UAE respondents), and ‘training and development opportunities’ (34%).

Business values and culture

In addition to workplace attraction and retention elements, respondents were asked about company culture and its impact when choosing a workplace. Over half (51%) of UAE respondents said company culture is ‘one of the determining factors when joining a company’, 39% said ‘it is important but not a determining factor’, only 4% said ‘they don’t pay attention to company culture’, while the remainder (7%) didn’t provide an answer.

When asked about business values that make a company more attractive in the UAE, 52% cited ‘good ethics and practices’, 42% said ‘friendly company culture’, 24% said ‘corporate social responsibility’, and 10% said ‘green consciousness / efforts’, indicating that UAE professionals are wary of the various elements that make up a company’s mission and impact on society.

Physical attributes

The study shows physical elements play a significant role when choosing a workplace as well. In the UAE, there seems to be a higher preference for larger companies, as 64% of respondents feel that an ideal company size has more than 50 employees.

When it comes to office layout, opinions vary. 23% of UAE professionals prefer an ‘open plan’ layout, 22% prefer ‘closed rooms’, 17% prefer ‘workstations’, 14% prefer ‘cubicles’, while 19% have ‘no preference’.

56% of UAE respondents said that the interior design of their offices ‘reflects the company’s brand and values’. 24% disagreed with this statement, while 20% were unsure. Furthermore, the majority of respondents in the UAE (79%) said they are allowed to personalize their workplace, at least to some extent.

Finding the perfect workplace

In order to pick the ideal workplace, professionals in the region need to access information on all the different attributes they value. When asked how easy it is to access information about company culture and work environment, the responses varied. 21% of UAE respondents said it is ‘very easy’, 30% said it is ‘somewhat easy’, 27% said it is ‘neither easy nor difficult’, 11% said it is ‘somewhat difficult’, and 5% said it is ‘very difficult’.

To understand this issue further, respondents were asked about the most useful company information and the most effective ways to promote that information to job seekers. ‘Online company pages targeting job seekers’ was voted the most effective method of communicating information. With regards to the type of information job seekers want to learn about the most, 55% of UAE respondents said ‘company benefits and perks’, 38% said ‘employee testimonials and reviews’, 22% said ‘awards and milestones’, 17% said ‘company events and socials’, and 7% said ‘photos and videos of the workplace’.

“The ideal workplace survey is designed to show employers what they need to do to secure the loyalty of their employees and attract the best talent to grow a happy and successful workforce for the future. By listening to the very people who sustain their company, organizations can evolve in tune with the times and offer the best opportunities possible for driven and motivated teams who ultimately want to see the long term prosperity of their company, region-wide and beyond.” said Anjali Chhabra, Associate Research Director, YouGov.

Data for the 2017 Bayt.com “Ideal Workplace in the Middle East and North Africa” poll was collected online from December 6 to 22, 2017. Results are based on a sample of 4,418 respondents. Respondents come from many countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Qatar and KSA.