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Revealed: Top 5 perks that UAE employees want at the workplace

By Shuchita Kapur

Let’s face it – they wouldn’t have to pay you and me to work if we loved doing it so much, right?

Take driving as an example. I love driving, especially here in the UAE, which has great roads and the fuel price isn’t suffocating. But would I love it that much if I had to do that day in and day out, for a living? Surely not.

So people who claim that they love what they do for a living are not telling us the truth – at least not the whole truth.
And as any recruitment specialist worth his commission will tell you, salaries are just not enough to recruit, retain and motivate employees to perform at their optimal efficiency level.
Organisations across the world try to bridge the gap between the motivation that a regular salary provides and that which propels employees to perform their best by offering benefits or perquisites, commonly referred to as perks.
Monetary benefits can only be a differentiator when there is a huge difference in numbers – over the past few decades, companies have come to realise that it is the extras or the benefits that attract and retain talent.
And this is very obvious in the UAE, where a big proportion of the working population comprise expatriates, who by definition are working in a foreign land and, therefore, may not necessarily have the strong family support they had ‘back home’.
Here are the top 5 perks that UAE employees wish for
# 1: A Family-Friendly Workplace
#2: Expat package (Medical insurance, annual air-tickets for self and family, etc.)
#3: Commission/bonus on top of guaranteed salary
#4: Housing Allowance
#5: Children’s school fees
Leaving the financial aspect for a later discussion, a work-life balance is what appeals most to employees in the UAE. A flexible or family-friendly job is what most employees wish for.
“Who doesn’t want a balance in life? I would love to work for a company that would understand the needs of my family,” said Anya Richards, an expat working in the aviation industry in Dubai.
Government department jobs are valued in the country for their work-life balance approach but there are many companies in the private sector as well that lay claim to the tag of being employee-friendly.
This is the reason that companies such as Microsoft are so valued in the private sector. A work-life balance charter and home-working options are what keeps the employees going. Another example is IBM. It is perhaps the most women or mother-friendly company in the world.
“I work in IBM and as a mother, I’m given the option to work from home when my children are sick,” an accountant who works with IBM Dubai told this website.
Headhunters in the county believe a majority of employees in the country wish to strike a balance when it comes to their work and personal life.
“Achieving work-life balance appears to be very important to UAE professionals,” Suhail Masri, vice-president of Sales at jobs website Bayt.com, told Emirates24|7.
“[Our] Employee Motivation in the Mena survey revealed that this sort of balance is a very important source of motivation to 75 per cent of professionals in the UAE,” he said.
When it comes to monetary perks, free medical insurance, air tickets and to add a dollop of bonus on the salary is what professionals like the most in the country.
“Free medical coverage, housing allowance, flexible time, ability to earn commission/bonus on top of guaranteed remuneration would rank highly,” said Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at hiring advisors Huxley Associates.
“Candidates are looking for competitive remuneration, in terms of salary and bonus, as well as additional benefits such as comprehensive medical for themselves and their dependents, school fees and annual flights home for their families,” said James Sayer, Director, Robert Half UAE while commenting on his picks.
Besides the immediate financial gratification, employees also value the lifestyle that the country has to offer, coupled with the secure environment and the opportunities.
“Security, market growth, good lifestyle, increasingly improving processes and regional/global opportunities [are what professionals value the most].
Finally, in several cases, the salaries are also attractive, along with the non-taxation system,” explained Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director, Stanton Chase International, a Dubai-based senior executive search firm.
Feeling valued at the workplace, training and development, are other aspects that can be motivators for a professional in the UAE.
“Other than work-life balance, the top three motivators for employees in the UAE are training and development opportunities (54 per cent); being able to feel that their work has an impact (44 per cent); recognition of work and achievements and the opportunity for career advancement (41 per cent each),” added the bayt.com expert.