Salary increase, more jobs expected in Gulf in 2021

The UAE and Saudi Arabia remained the busiest areas in the GCC for hiring
The UAE and Saudi Arabia remained the busiest areas in the GCC for hiring

Dubai - In 2020, 49 per cent of employers either increased their headcount or kept it the same as in 2019


Issac John

Published: Wed 6 Jan 2021, 6:20 PM

Last updated: Wed 6 Jan 2021, 6:32 PM

For job-hunters, 2021 promises to be a year of fulfillment with a survey showing that 64 per cent of the companies in the GCC expect to recruit additional headcount over the next 12 months.

For those who are already employed, 2021 is equally an appealing year as nearly half (47 per cent) of all GCC employees expect an increase in salary in the coming 12 months, according to the Hays GCC Salary & Employment Report released on Wednesday.

Chris Greaves, managing director, Hays Gulf Region, said a significant 82 per cent of companies that took part in the survey and said that they were already in recovery, business as usual. “However, since most organisations are going to strive to keep a lid on salaries in 2021 in an attempt to recoup some of the losses made in the past year, across the board pay rises to be a rare occurrence,” he said.

Despite the challenges and turbulence wrought by Covid-19 in 2020, the UAE and Saudi Arabia remained the busiest areas in the GCC for hiring. In 2020, 49 per cent of employers either increased their headcount or kept it the same as in 2019, with some areas still very active in terms of their hiring throughout the year. “The good news is that since the easing of travel restrictions, all industries have shown signs of recovery with a significant increase in the number of jobs available seen from September onwards.”

“While many employers will remain more risk-averse with regard to spending than in 2019, investments are nonetheless on the up and, consequently, we expect the number of available jobs to increase in the Banking & Financial Services sector,” said Daivik Malhotra, Hays’ Recruitment Consultant Banking & Financial Services.

Another key finding of the survey is that while 70 per cent of employees said their productivity had either remained the same or increased when working remotely compared to in the office, 52 per cent of employers believed their staff’s productivity had decreased.

“Moving away from salaries it is worth commenting on the fundamental shift in work patterns that the pandemic has brought upon us with the rapid acceleration to mass home working. This experience has increased employee expectations that some form of home working will be introduced permanently by their employers, with 78 per cent of employees in fact wanting greater flexibility to their working patterns in 2021 and 41 per cent of employers, who did not previously offer remote working, plan on doing so it in 2021,” said Greaves.

While 70 per cent of employees said their productivity had remained the same or increased as they worked from home, only 44 per cent of employers agreed with them. “This is a gap which needs to be bridged if trust is to remain in the employer-employee relationship. We still have a lot to learn about managing and communicating with a remote workforce and keeping them motivated and involved,” said the report, which was compiled from a survey of more than 3,500 employers and employees from across the region.

“While working from home is not a new concept for many Accountancy & Finance professionals, 79 per cent hoped their organisation would implement this as part of its normal working practices in 2021 and, going forward, we expect demand for flexible working to increase from employees,” said Amy Bassindale, business manager Accountancy & Finance, Hays Gulf Region.

Greaves said that in a year where GCC governments quickly introduced legislation for companies to temporarily reduce salaries, 34 per cent of the survey’s employee respondents said their salary actually increased in 2020 compared to their salary in 2019.

“As in every previous year, the biggest single reason for a salary increase was ‘starting a new job with a new company.’ In a year where job losses made all the headlines in the media, 19 per cent of employers actually reported an increase in headcount at the end of 2020 compared to 12 months earlier. In addition, 21 per cent of businesses said they were either unaffected or positively impacted by the crisis.”

The busiest areas for hiring in 2020, that Hays expects to offer the largest number of job opportunities in 2021, include the IT and technology, healthcare, pharmaceutical, e-commerce and FMCG sectors, all of which were relatively resilient during the pandemic, if not positively impacted in terms of business activity.

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