The Great Resignation: Most employees in UAE set to switch jobs in 2022

About 56 per cent of professionals say they intend to change their jobs in the next 12 months


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Fri 17 Dec 2021, 10:01 AM

With the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacting the job market in the UAE and the GCC, it’s believed that “The Great Resignation” is on the cards.

Recruitment and HR industry executives suggest that a large number of employees in the country, and the region, will switch their jobs in 2022, resulting in a war for talent among employers.

“’The Great Resignation’ is a theme that the whole world has been talking about for some months now and it looks like it will arrive in the GCC in 2022, with a huge 56 per cent of professionals stating that they intend to change their jobs in the next 12 months.


"Taking these intentions into account, we expect the war on talent amongst employers to increase and attraction and retention strategies to be a key focus as we enter 2022,” said Sarah Dixon, managing director at Hays Gulf region.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, a good number of employees in the UAE and were made redundant across multiple sectors. This promoted many of the employees to look at alternative jobs as well as upgrade their skills.

As a result of competition amongst employers, Dixon noted that attracting and retaining top talent is a big challenge for organisations now.

“Salary remains the main motivator for changing jobs, while career development is the number one reason why employees will stay with an employer. The majority (of employees) expect some form of working from home options to be offered as part of a standard employment contract going forward.”

A recent study by recruitment and HR consultancy Cooper Fitch revealed that 41 per cent of UAE firms increased salaries in 2021 up to 10 per cent. In 2022, 43 per cent of businesses will be increasing salaries up to 10 per cent and more.

As the competition for talent heats up, Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR, said companies in the UAE are also sourcing talent from other countries more economically.

“Globalisation and the pandemic have impacted salaries and packages in the UAE, especially for the entry and mid-level positions, companies are able to attract talent at much lesser cost and from anywhere in the world and even outsource some of their business functions globally, this as well as, the UAE’s brand as a leading job market and a great place to work makes it easier to bring in workers to the country,” said Anwar.

Monitoring productivity of WFH

The Upfront HR managing director said working remotely has emerged as a requirement by both employers and employees and employers are using technology to assess the productivity of their workers working from home.

“This leads to another trend which is emerging as a must-have requirement – the need to use technology to deliver this transition successfully, as well as the use technology tools to measure the success and productivity of the employees working from home,” Anwar said, adding that short-term contracts and temporary staffing solutions have definitely become a requirement in current times.

Sarah Dixon noted that with the surge in remote working during the pandemic, hybrid working models are now common practice and there’s no doubt that here to stay. And employees prefer those employers who offer the best work-life balance.

A survey revealed that the majority – 58 per cent – of UAE organisations offer remote working as compared to 35 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

She added that the most common option is complete flexibility for employees to work from home or in the office as they wish. The second most common offering is 2-3 days per week. Importantly, more than one-third – 34 per cent – of professionals in the UAE said that remote working afforded them a better work-life balance and it is clear that it is an important pull factor to professionals when considering a new employer,”

Jobs and roles in demand after the pandemic

Recruitment and HR industry officials say that senior roles are in good demand in the post-pandemic recovery period in the UAE.

“Experienced and qualified senior professionals from all job categories are in higher demand than more junior candidates. This has been even more so the case following the pandemic as many employers have gone through restructuring and are now actively hiring senior leaders with skills and expertise to achieve business growth objectives,” said Sarah Dixon, managing director, Hays Gulf region.

Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR, said packages for senior roles and more niche highly-skilled positions remain high and unlikely to be affected.

“In the last 18 months, we saw a significant increase in the number of jobs in e-commerce and IT sectors driven directly by the pandemic and its digital revolution that followed. As the economy continues to recover and tourist and visitors return to the UAE, the hospitality, F&B and retail sectors have seen an increase in the number of jobs available,” he added

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