Revealed: Sectors that got the best – and the worst – pay hikes in UAE

Companies increasing remuneration packages in order to secure top talent

First, the good news: After two dismal years of salary-freezes, pay-cuts and layoffs, 2012 was definitely much better for the majority of employees in the UAE.

An average pay-hike of 5 to 6 per cent (based on the figures released by top recruitment agencies in the country) indicates that confidence in the corporate world is returning.

Barring some exceptional cases, double-digit hikes (like yesteryears) remained a distant dream for most, but the still-reasonable hikes that employees received in 2012 augur well for the New Year.

The average 5 to 6 per cent-band, however, hides within itself a range of variations, in that employees in certain sectors of the economy got a much better deal than some others.

Consequently, some sectors performed much better than others and this saw those employees taking home fatter paychecks this year.

On the other hand, there were, indeed, a handful of industries that didn’t fare well, and doled out low increments that were hardly sufficient to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Even though it’s still an employer’s market, a number of companies are now taking steps to ensure that they do not suffer from a high employee turnover as the local job market improves. Resultantly, pay-hike is, once again, becoming the norm now, albeit in single digits.

“A lot of companies have increased their remuneration packages in order to secure top talent. In fact, 81 per cent of companies are struggling to find the requisite talent, and 85 per cent are concerned about losing their top performers. We are, therefore, seeing companies providing higher incentives in a bid to recruit and retain the best and brightest,” Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director at Robert Half International, told Emirates 24|7.

Commenting on who got the best deals this year, Mettouri adds: “Industries seeing the strongest gains include real estate and construction, although FMCG, healthcare/pharmaceuticals and utilities are all seeing above-average salary increases.”

And yes, the bankers and their bonuses are back with a bang. Data from recruitment specialists Aon Hewitt Middle East shows that, among the professional services sector, banks have provided the highest salary increase at 8.1 per cent.

“Within financial services, the insurance, corporate and private banking sectors are also showing strong hiring increases, with companies reporting challenges sourcing the staff they need to fill critical roles,” added James Sayer, Director, Robert Half Middle East.

“Some niche occupations such as regulatory, compliance and risk as well as several technology specialists are increasingly sought after and as demand outweighs supply, salaries [have gone up and are] likely to increase throughout 2013,” he told this website.

Aon Hewitt Middle East data also shows that employees in the pharmaceuticals and chemicals sector received a 5.8 per cent increase, while those in the machinery and equipment sector got only a 4.1 per cent hike. Additionally, its stats suggest that the lowest increments were doled out by transportation, logistics and shipping services, at just 2.5 per cent.

This particular data, however, is refuted by another research from within the industry. Findings from the Logistics Executive 2012/13 supply chain and logistics employment market show that the sector performed reasonably well.

“On a regional basis, the highest percentage of respondents to this year’s survey (31 per cent) are employed in the MEA region and just over 55 per cent of respondents in MEA indicated their salary had increased by more than 5 per cent since their last salary review with the majority of those respondents (15.64 per cent) indicating they received an increase of 9-10 per cent on their previous salary,” said Brian Cartwright, Managing Director, Middle East & Africa, Logistics Executive.

According to jobs site’s top industries 2012 survey, oil, gas and petrochemicals (OGP) industry came out top in salary packages. The survey carried out by the recruitment search engine reveals that OGP was the best paid sector, followed by airline/government/civil service/banking/finance and third on the list was military/defense/police and IT.

A section of experts also maintains that salary hikes in 2012 were not sector-centric, and varied based on the company, its location, and were, in fact, employee-specific too. “The increases or decreases depend on the specific company, the emirate and the specific person. If there are sectors that are suffering, they have been suffering for quite some time (like the real estate or the financial sector), and it is not a new phenomenon in 2012,” explained Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director at Stanton Chase.

“The majority of organisations in the UAE gave salary increases based on employee performance,” Dr. Nairouz Bader, CEO of Vision Executive Search, told this website.


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