It’s Not All About the Money for UAE Workers
October 21st, 2012, Jeetu Sharma

It’s Not All About the Money for UAE Workers

Salary, perhaps not surprisingly is a key motivator for workers in the UAE according to a YouGov online survey, conducted for Al Aan TV but also high on the list for employees are the environment in which they work, their employer’s brand and reputation and opportunities for growth. The poll was conducted between 24th September and 10th October 2012, and 1004 employees in the UAE were interviewed online.

- Salary is a motivator ‘to work’ according to the majority of employees (76%) in the UAE and for a small minority (10%) it is the only motivation

- Apart from salary, ‘opportunities for long term career growth’ (44%), one’s work environment (46%) & their employer’s brand reputation (45%) also emerge as key drivers.

Amongst these key drivers, 29% of respondents claim their job does not meet their expectations regarding their work environment & this number jumps to 42% for salary (versus expectations). However, the biggest mismatch for employees comes from a lack of opportunities for growth – 43% claim these do not match their expectations.

Perhaps due to Gulf hiring policies, compared to other nationalities, a higher percentage of Westerners say they are close to where they want to be in their career development. They are also more likely to be satisfied (extremely or somewhat) with the salary package they currently receive (76%), compared to Emiratis (70%), Asians (69%) & Arab Expats (66%). Overall, one in three (32%) of employees across UAE are not satisfied with their salaries.

Whilst many companies may claim to have pay scales and bands, 40% of employees claim that there is no ‘parity/ equality’ in the salaries paid in their organization to different employees of the same designation - this sentiment is strongly expressed by Emiratis (50%). Only 13% believe that complete parity exists.

Promotions are another sore point for UAE workers – only 4% say their companies policy on promotions are clear and only 5 % believe that their company is “extremely fair” when it comes to promoting employees.

Unfortunately for many UAE residents, the findings of the survey will echo their own experiences. Many companies, tend not to focus on long term development of their staff, given the UAE is often a staging post on the CV of many expats. Together with a relatively young and fast growing market, high staff turnover & a melting pot of different nationalities, often felt to be paid based on their nationality rather than their capabilities, UAE companies represent the perfect breeding ground for employee resentment and paranoia. However, for companies that address employees concerns in an open and transparent manner, they may find there are ways to increase motivation with opening the cheque book.