UAE workers are the least satisfied with their salaries compared to their peers in the other GCC countries, a study has revealed.
Growing inflation was found to have pushed the increase in cost of living out of proportion to the pay rises in the UAE and the GCC as a whole during 2007, according to the Regional Human Resource Overview report.
It found that the Levant, Algeria and Morocco registered the lowest salary satisfaction levels but UAE did not lag far behind with a substantial 48 per cent of residents indicating a low satisfaction with their salary.
In the GCC, residents of Kuwait and Qatar were least likely to indicate low levels of salary satisfaction, with 39 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, registering low satisfaction. In the GCC as a whole only three per cent of the total residents indicated a high satisfaction level with current salary levels, 53 per cent indicated medium satisfaction and 44 per cent registered low satisfaction.
The report said: “Gulf nationals registered the highest incidence of low salary satisfaction at 49 per cent, and Western nationals registered the highest incidence of high satisfaction at 11 per cent of the talent pool. In terms of gender split, 40 per cent of men indicated low salary satisfaction levels versus 51 per cent of women, suggestive perhaps of earning disparities between them.”
In the UAE, the average cost of living grew by 37 per cent compared to a 17 per cent rise in overall salary levels. This was only beaten by Qatar, where living costs increased by 38 per cent as opposed to a 16 per cent growth in pay. Average salaries rose in the 12 to 17 per cent range for the GCC while average cost of living increases registered in the range of 27 to 38 per cent.
“Everyone everywhere is talking about this, whether it is soaring rents, high education costs, or the price of a drink or dinner at your local beach café. Speculation on whether regional currencies will unpeg with relation to the dollar are also rife and together they’ve replaced the weather as a conversational opener,” stated the report.
“The survey showed a stronger than expected level of rise in wages across the region. However, these are wiped out across the region by perceived increases in the cost of living,” it added.
In the GCC, 26 per cent of the total respondents said they did not get a raise in the past 12 months compared to 25 per cent in the Levant and 17 per cent in North Africa.
The survey concluded that high levels of disgruntlement could be traced back to the amount of the salary employees were able to save.
Of all the respondents in the Middle East, 24 per cent were unable to save any income at all. Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait registered the highest incidence of savings rates above 21 per cent of total income with 36 per cent, 35 per cent, 20 per cent, 19 per cent and 19 per cent of total respondents registering savings in that bracket.
The UAE registered a 13 per cent savings rate in that bracket, but 23 per cent people unable to save at all.
Gulf and Levant nationals registered the highest incidence of zero savings at 32 per cent and Western nationals registered the lowest incidence of zero savings at 12 per cent of the total respondents. And 17 per cent of Asian professionals surveyed indicated a zero savings rate.
The report also examined the quality of talent currently in the GCC countries, with the UAE and Kuwait emerging as having the highest portion of new talent. Bahrain and Oman were found to have a more experienced talent pool – the figures in Bahrain are driven by a higher proportion of nationals.
The report said: “Regardless of the presence of other factors beside pay driving loyalty towards jobs and companies, cost of living pressures are affecting the talent pool quite considerably. When asked on their plans to improve their situation, a significant number of people in the region (UAE included) said they would consider relocating (in the next 12 months), but more surprising was the fact that quite a high percentage of people were even considering career switches.”
The average amount of time spent in one career path in the region is 8.78 years, and those that deem themselves “fairly senior” average 11.3 years, not far behind the average of those that deem themselves at the top of their career which is 11.88 years.
Those who have spent 7.8 years on average consider themselves to be midway through their career path.
Inflation, depreciation of the dollar and economic growth were cited as the main reasons in most countries for a rise in salaries, if there was one, in the region.
In the UAE, 65 per cent of residents cited inflation as being the main factor behind salary increases compared to 32 per cent citing dollar depreciation and 32 per cent citing economic growth.
The report said: “Recent pay increases in the public sector in the UAE have not gone unnoticed and 22 per cent of surveyed professionals have indicated that these hikes are the main factor behind recent pay rises.”
Most people consider their situation to be about average vis-à-vis their peers in their country of residence.
Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar reflected the highest satisfaction levels with current salary. The UAE and Saudi Arabia recorded the lowest satisfaction levels in the GCC.
The report said this showed there was room for improvement in salaries in these states. “Needless to say steps need to be taken to avoid a further slip in perception,” it added.
A large number of people in the surveyed countries were unhappy with their raises.
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