Aside from salary, a company’s benefits package is the top factor that attracts employees to a new job role in the UAE and the wider region. Over 60 per cent respondents to a pan-Gulf study said a generous benefits package is the most important aspect in an organisation for them.

Hays’ GCC Salary Guide for 2024 found that the three benefits that professionals value the most are air ticket/travel allowances (43 per cent), child education allowances (38 per cent), and flexible working (34 per cent).

However, while only 5 per cent of employers claim not to offer benefits, a significant 41 per cent of professionals state that they do not receive any. “This underscores a gap in employer-professional perceptions of the benefits offered versus what they receive, possibly stemming from a lack of clarity or transparency in the communication process,” Oliver Kowalski, managing director at Hays Middle East, told Khaleej Times.

About 75 per cent of employers agree that the benefits package is the most important factor to help them attract and retain staff. The top three benefits employers offer are air ticket/travel allowances (59 per cent), life insurance (42 per cent), and flexible working (35 per cent). Some employees in the GCC offer hybrid/remote working options (27 per cent) to their employees and additional vacation days (23 per cent).

Flexible working

Changing work habits are among the megatrends shaping the job market in the Gulf region.

“In a post-pandemic world, working habits and expectations have changed. Professionals generally want more flexibility in how they work in terms of time and place. This desire for increased flexibility is a common trend across various professions, reflecting a broader evolution in working habits. (About) 34 per cent of professionals say flexible working is one of their most valued benefits and 31 per cent report the same about hybrid and remote working options,” said Kowalski.

Are there jobs out there?

The outlook for hiring in 2024 is optimistic as 67 per cent of employers in the Gulf say they expect to add to their organisation’s headcount. “There is no variance between the Gulf’s two largest economies, with 69 per cent of organisations in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE planning to expand their workforce this year,” the salary guide states.

“Even organisations not planning to increase their overall staff numbers will still need to hire due to various reasons such as turnover, skill gaps, or project-based work. For job-seekers, it suggests a buoyant hiring environment across different types of employment arrangements, providing opportunities for permanent roles, temporary positions, contract work, and freelance,” said Kowalski.

There are more candidates applying for jobs than in the past, according to 41 per cent employers. However, 41 per cent highlight a shortage of skilled professionals. This suggests that while there’s a higher overall demand for employment opportunities and a greater supply of candidates, there’s challenges in finding qualified professionals, according to Hays.

“To address recruitment challenges, 47 per cent say they are upskilling and reskilling the existing workforce, 37 per cent say they are strengthening their employer brand, and 33 per cent say they are increasing their international recruitment,” said Kowalski.


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