The UAE job market is still a far cry from its heydays when employers would lose sleep about their most important asset – their human resources – walking out of the office in the evening and not returning the next day.
There was a time when UAE employers would go out of their way to retain staff, offering sops such as flexible work-hours and extra days off in addition to handsome increments and bonuses to keep their employees happy.
Today, however, it’s a different story. Although the job market is showing sure signs of improvement with more jobs being available, employers aren’t so anxious to retain existing staff, being fully aware of the demand and supply dynamics that influence the market.
According to a new poll run by Emirates 24|7, a majority (59 per cent) of the employers in the country will not try too hard to retain their employees if they wish to quit.
Of the 59 per cent of respondents who believe that retaining staff isn’t a priority for UAE employers in today’s market where talent is freely available, 34 per cent of respondents believe that employees are not likely to look out due to the limited options available to them.
“There aren’t many good job opportunities for employees to jump about,” they opted to say.
Another 25 per cent of the employers believe that even if some employees quit, there are plenty of candidates out there in the market, and companies will not have to suffer in any way because of people leaving their jobs.
“[We] currently have more than 3,965 vacancies advertised online in the UAE, with more than 1,690 job posts in Dubai alone,” Suhail Masri, V-P Sales, Bayt.com, recently told this website.
But for these few thousands of jobs available, there are 1.5 million jobseekers (including those passively looking for a job-change) in the UAE alone. Masri maintains that there are more than 11 million jobseekers registered on Bayt.com, of which 1,584,000 are from the UAE.
Of course, not all jobs are advertised, and not every job advert is posted online, Masri acknowledges. “To these [3,965 UAE vacancies] are added hundreds, if not thousands, of unadvertised positions that employers prefer filling by browsing our database of CVs,” he says.
Nevertheless, even though the job market is not mimicking the real estate sector as it did in the past, a good percentage of employers still believe that people remain their biggest strength.
Fourteen per cent of the participants believe that the best and brightest will always have opportunities and it’s important to retain your key people.
“Talent retention remains an important trend and component within the recruitment and HR markets,” Gareth Clayton, Director Charterhouse told Emirates 24|7.
Statistics show that even though the UAE job market is out of the doldrums, there are far more candidates than jobs being made available.
The number of people applying for each job vacancy in the country still puts employers in the driving seat and candidates are still struggling to even get an interview call.
More than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents to this website’s poll believes that the job market has improved, and will only become better this year. Employees will leave if they are not taken care of, they maintain.
And that, perhaps, should act as a warning sign for employers to not get too comfortable with the current situation where a large number of jobseekers are chasing a few available vacancies.
“Not only can the cost of replacing people be timely and financially expensive, but acquiring the right talent continues to be a challenge for most regional businesses,” Clayton says.
“The GCC in many ways has a unique dimension to its hiring, and whilst the supply of candidates may be strong, it doesn’t necessarily translate in to quality and relevance of skill sets and backgrounds,” he insists.