Most workers in the UAE are now looking for new jobs to earn higher salaries, as they struggle to cope with rising cost of living, according to a new survey by recruitment specialist Robert Half. 

More than half (52%) of employees polled for the study said it is becoming hard to afford their monthly living expenses, while around three in five (59%) are worried about living costs and their impact. 

With the financial difficulties employees are facing, Robert Half said there is a significant number (74%) of workers that are considering a new role in 2023. Most of these jobseekers (56%) said their primary reason is to secure a higher salary so that they can meet financial needs. 

According to Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide, workers’ monthly incomes are no longer keeping pace with inflation in the UAE. Over the past 12 months, the average salary in the UAE has increased by 3.2%, while inflation has gone up by around 5.6%, as per UAE Central Bank estimates. 

Retaining top talent 

The recruitment specialist suggests that businesses should consider offering higher compensation in order to retain their top talent. 

“The cost of living is one of the biggest concerns we are hearing from candidates and, make no mistake, people will move to secure the higher salaries they need to meet their obligations,” said Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director for Middle East at Robert Half. 

“Expats may even move away from the area, with knock-on effects for the UAE economy. If employers want to retain their best talent and maintain productivity, they should be prepared to offer increased salaries, extra bonuses and higher allowances that ease the strain for their workforce.” 

So far, only three in ten (31%) of workers in the UAE have received pay adjustments to meet rising inflation. About a quarter (25%) have also received mental wellbeing support from their employers, while 18% received finance training. 

However, Robert Half noted that many companies are opting to lower their compensation outlay, particularly when they hire new staff.  

“Many business leaders are choosing to make cuts when it comes to hiring new talent, which is affecting their competitiveness within the UAE and worldwide” Robert Half said. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)