UAE jobs: More than 55% expats want to change roles, survey reveals

Overall wellbeing increases thanks to new residency reforms, including Golden and Green visas

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 5:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 5:56 PM

While the UAE has recorded significant progress against global markets in overall well-being indices, a recent survey has revealed that stress levels are high among employees. The Cigna 360° Global Well-Being Survey 2022, launched Thursday, stated that UAE employees have complained of stress and/or burnout due to longer working hours.

The country’s overall well-being growth is the highest among all countries worldwide. This has been due to progressive policy changes, new visa regulations, such as the Golden Visa and the Green Visa, and increased resident confidence in the country’s economic growth over the past two years.

There are several positive indicators in the survey, such as quality of life, a secure job market and finances.

Cigna is an American multinational managed healthcare and insurance company, and the Global Well-Being Survey is currently in its 8th edition, with a total of 11,922 respondents aged 18-65 across critical markets worldwide.

Stress levels

The stress level in the UAE against other vital markets is at 90.6 (74.1, UK; 74.7, Australia), said the survey.

Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna International Markets for Domestic Health and Health Services, said at least 4,200 patients seek care from general practitioners, and 160 individuals are admitted to hospitals annually for mental health care in the country, according to official healthcare statistics.

Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna International Markets for Domestic Health and Health Services, with Scott Armstrong and Dr Louise Lambert
Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna International Markets for Domestic Health and Health Services, with Scott Armstrong and Dr Louise Lambert

Explaining the phenomenon, Dr Louise Lambert, director of happiness policy and programming,, said, “An always-on work culture, a younger population that is always on their devices, and unrealistic work expectations are some of the top reasons for chronic stress.”

According to the survey, 98 per cent of surveyed audiences in the UAE have experienced at least one symptom of burnout versus 94 per cent globally. “Stress has also manifested itself physically and emotionally as residents report feeling depressed (37 per cent), losing interest in activities they enjoy (40 per cent), and disrupted sleep (46 per cent),” he added.

The study also said women are more stressed than men, with 94 reporting incidences of stress compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, Gen Z is amongst the most stressed (95 per cent reported incidences of focus), with 98 per cent reported experiencing burnout symptoms.

Top destination to relocate

However, the Emirates emerged as the number one destination across the Middle East, Africa and Asia and among the Top 10 global destinations out of 197 countries to relocate for expatriates, according to the survey.

With 4 per cent of all global expats wanting to relocate to the UAE, the survey revealed that the Middle Eastern country is the only country in the region to feature in this list. Moreover, the UAE scores 68.2 on the well-being index – considerably above the global average of 62.9, followed by the USA, UK, China, Spain, and Australia.

Expatriates stay longer in the UAE

The annual global survey by Cigna has also said expatriates who move to the UAE record a more extended period of stay in the country when compared with expats moving to any other country in the world.

“The average expat length of stay in the UAE (4.4 years) is significantly higher than the global average (3.2 years),” said Droesch.

“This reflects the better quality of life, finances, and a more stable job market in the country,” he added. “Moreover, post-pandemic, UAE residents are also more conscious of their health and well-being with improved scores across all health indices,” he said.

Employees evaluate their career goals

The survey has also brought out critical pointers in the race for talent, as more employees are evaluating their career goals, Droesch said.

“Employee health and well-being have become paramount, and employers need to step up to create an environment where employees feel more cared for, supported and can grow in their personal and professional capacities,” he added.

“The survey sheds light on the opportunities organisations can capitalise on to build awareness, drive change in this direction and improve their positions as attractive places to work for,” he added.

The top findings from the Cigna 360° Global Well-Being Survey 2022 are as follows:

The UAE ranks well above the global average in overall well-being: UAE has scored 68.2 on the well-being index, significantly above the worldwide average of 62.9, followed by the USA, UK, China, Spain, and Australia.

Compared to 2021, the UAE’s index has grown by 2.1, as opposed to the global growth of only 0.7

  • Physical well-being: UAE - 65.3, Global - 59.9
  • Social well-being: UAE - 67.1, Global - 62.8
  • Family well-being: UAE - 73.1, Global - 67.1
  • Financial well-being: UAE - 59.8, Global - 56
  • Work well-being: UAE - 71.7, Global - 69.5

Residents place priority on high-quality family time

In the UAE, 56.4 per cent of residents said they enjoyed high-quality family time compared to the global average of 45.5 per cent.

  • Close family ties continue to remain important for people in the UAE
  • Increased choices are enabling people in UAE to re-evaluate their lifestyle and workplace.

Employees in the UAE lead the world in workplace mobility

A growing economy, flexible visa rules and increased opportunities for employees have resulted in more employees in the UAE changing jobs over the last 12 months (40 per cent), as opposed to the global average (24 per cent).

  • 55 per cent have claimed a desire to change their jobs in the next 12 months as opposed to 36 per cent globally
  • 53.2 per cent of residents were also happy to take less paid employment, if it meant they had time to do other things, as opposed to 42 per cent globally
  • Adopting new models to access health care: 52 per cent of residents in the UAE expressed trust in virtual health consultation as much as in-person consultation, as opposed to 41 per cent globally. This scoring ranks UAE among the highest in all the countries
  • UAE residents are also more willing to share data for virtual health (91 per cent) as against 81.2 per cent globally.


Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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