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28 February 2024

Jobs in UAE: Will you be sacked if you ask for a pay-hike this year?

By Shuchita Kapur

Encouraged by clear green shoots in the local economy, UAE companies are expanding their scope and size of work and are in for hiring additional talent to meet with the potential demand spike.

But should existing employees also expect a reasonable pay-hike this year, considering they’ve stuck with their employers through thick and (largely) thin in the past few years?

Or should they fear being replaced with ‘cheaper’ talent that is making itself available in the Dubai job market and elsewhere?

We asked market participants – analysts, corporate recruiters and experts.

“There are people available in the market but it’s a hassle to go through the entire hiring and training process. The simpler and easier way out is to retain existing staff, if that is possible and feasible,” said the HR manager of a multinational bank in the UAE on the condition of anonymity.

Even if this means that they might miss out on their commissions for new-hires, headhunters in the country agree with those in the corporate world – retain than scout for new.

“Most employers will want to keep their existing staff as there is a much greater expense to attract and hire new employees, including lost productivity and burden on colleagues and managers, than to retain their existing talent,” James Sayer, Director at Robert Half UAE, told Emirates 24|7.

In effect, UAE firms will prefer hiking salaries of their existing staff in order to retain them and save themselves the trouble of scouting new employees.

And this is a trend that we are likely to see for the rest of the year.

However – and there is always a catch – don’t take that as a blanket go-ahead to barge into your boss’ cabin and ‘demand’ a raise.

Ask for a pay-hike only if your – and your organisation’s – performance warrants it, and even then, do it in an acceptable manner, experts recommend.

“That said, there are often reasons why companies are unable to offer additional compensation despite wanting to, and don’t act until which time they are facing an employee submitting their resignation. Often, this is too late. Employers should continually benchmark their salaries against market rates by using online resources and salary surveys such,” Sayer pointed out.

Firms will not hold back in case employees have unreasonable expectations, or are not willing to wait for their turn, warn analysts. They maintain that companies will, if their business demands so, replace existing employees with new ones.

“Companies will prefer in general to keep the people that they already have. There is no trend of replacing expensive executives with ‘cheaper’ ones, unless there is a restructuring in the company and this strategy is perceived to be preferred (not from a cost perspective, but from a development perspective),” said Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director, Stanton Chase International.

Many in the industry believe the decision to hire somebody new or not depends on the position that is made vacant and on the policies of the hiring company.

“This highly depends on the career level,” said Suhail Masri, VP Sales at Bayt.com. “[Our] Hiring Management in the MENA poll revealed that senior executives are more stable than junior executives (62.3 per cent), which explains, why 42.2 per cent of employers rarely hire new talent at top levels and prefer promoting from within,” he explained.

“This (hiring new staff than retaining existing ones) depends from one organisation to another. However, remuneration levels remain steady,” added Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at hiring advisors Huxley Associates.

Much on the lines of last year, an average UAE employee can expect a nominal pay hike this year. A 5 per cent pay rise is seen on the cards this year, according to the latest total remuneration survey conducted by Mercer.

 (Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)



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