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03 December 2023

'Work-life balance most motivating factor for employees in UAE'

Picture for illustrative purpose only.

By Staff

Employees in the UAE consider that a good work-life balance to be important for motivation, according to the ‘Employee Motivation in the MENA’ survey conducted by the Middle East job site Bayt.com and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation.

On a day-to-day basis, more than half of the employees in the UAE (56 per cent) feel that they are either ‘highly motivated’ (28 per cent) or ‘motivated’ (28 per cent) by the work that they do

Three-quarters (75 per cent) of UAE respondents believe that a good work-life balance is a very important source of motivation, with 60 per cent claiming that their current organisation offers support for them to achieve this (this is 2 per cent higher than the regional average of 58 per cent).

Other than work-life balance, the leading motivators for employees across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region are recognition of work and achievements (47 per cent); training and development opportunities (45 per cent); the opportunity for career advancement (42 per cent); being able to feel that their work has an impact (40 per cent); personal fulfillment (39 per cent) and opportunities for long-term career growth (39 per cent). Also ranking highly were participating in decision making (37 per cent); the respondent’s colleagues and work environment (34 per cent); the nature of their daily responsibilities (31 per cent) and being able to set and reach goals (31 per cent).

Despite these high motivation factors, there are not many respondents who prefer to maintain their position at the company they’re currently employed at. Only four in every 10 UAE respondents (41 per cent)  are intending to stay with their current organisation for a minimum of 12 months, compared to the regional average of 39 per cent. A further 29 per cent intend to stay for a minimum of three to five years, with only 10 per cent stating that they will continue for at least 10 years, or until retirement.

“Retaining quality performers simply adds to increased productivity and morale, while reducing the associated costs of turnover,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com. “Our survey’s results show that companies need to be doing more to help boost levels of motivation for the employees, specifically on the work-life balance front as that’s what matters to most professionals.”

To help increase retention levels, the incentives that respondents claim are most important to them are monetary rewards (55 per cent); certificates (35 per cent); time off (19 per cent); medals, or plaques of achievement (14 per cent), and functional awards, such as gym memberships, discount vouchers and so on (13 per cent).

Attitude towards work

Across the Mena region, the majority (92 per cent) of respondents feel that the work that they do is significant to their company, with 86 per cent stating that their job is significant and important to their colleagues, customers and business partners. Also, 72 per cent believe that their work is important to their country of residence, while 72 per cent say that what they do is significant to their society. Three-quarters (76 per cent) claim that their work gives them a sense of personal achievement, with 77 per cent stating it offers them a sense of professional achievement.

In the UAE, respondents’ personal attitudes towards work are high, in accordance with regional sentiments. 92 per cent say that their job is significant to their company; 87 per cent say their job is important to their colleagues, customers and business partners; 70 per cent state that what they do is important to the country, and 67 per cent believe their job is important to society. Three-quarters state that their work offers them a sense of personal achievement (75 per cent), and a sense of professional achievement (74 per cent).

Loyalty and management

On a regional level, respondents are most loyal to their profession/line of work, followed by loyalty to their customers, clients and business partners. Those who command the least loyalty are line managers, with only 44 per cent saying their manager communicates what is going on in the organisation to them.

Respondents from the Mena region also believe that 54 per cent of line managers consult with them enough on matters of importance; 53 per cent challenge their employees to achieve their best and 50 per cent give formal appreciation following a job well done.  Line managers are perceived to be committed to their companies by 78 per ent of respondents, as well as being open to suggestions (65 per cent) and supportive if the respondent has a problem (62 per cent). In the UAE, only 43 per cent believe that their management takes the time to listen to their concerns and suggestions.

Work environment and job satisfaction

Across the Mena region, respondents believe that levels of internal communication are high, with 71 per cent stating that they are either ‘fully informed’ or ‘fairly well informed’ of their company’s short and long term goals plus recent plans and developments. Companies are considered to be transparent by 64 per cent of respondents.

On an average working day, 49 per cent of respondents in the UAE feel either ‘under stress’ (32 per cent), or ‘under severe stress’ (17 per cent), in comparison to regional figures of 30 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively. This could be linked with the fact that, across the Mena region, 23 per cent of employees always work overtime or take work home with them. Of these, 44 per cent do so because it is part of their job requirement; 36 per cent do it in order to get ahead and finish their projects early, while 30 per cent claim that it is the only way to meet deadlines.

“Levels of stress and the number of people working overtime are most likely a prolonged effect of downsizing, due to the recent recession. As the economy picks up and companies once more begin to grow, these statistics may reduce further as the workload is spread more evenly between employees,” said Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov.

Respondents on the whole feel that they are relatively free to find solutions to their own work challenges, with only 12 per cent in the UAE stating that they can ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ do so.

The survey shows that the majority (59 per cent) of companies in the Mena region engage in CSR activities. Respondents feel most strongly that their organisation should be involved in providing job opportunities (35 per cent), though the preservation of the environment also ranked highly (30 per ent). Causes that companies should also consider include supporting orphans (28 per cent), providing training and job opportunities (27 per cent), medical support programmes (such as blood donation drives) (26 per cent), and human rights support (25 per cent).

Taking all of these factors into consideration, the respondents’ overall satisfaction with their work and organisation is high. They are especially happy with their relationships with co-workers (85 per cent), the responsibilities they are assigned (78 per ent) and their physical working conditions (75 per cent). Points of most dissatisfaction include compensation and benefits (48 per cent satisfied), promises to employees not being kept (50 per cent satisfied), and the quality of job and skill-training opportunities (50 per cent satisfied).

Employees in private-sector multinational companies are most likely to recommend their organisation as an employer, according to 84 per cent of respondents. Private sector LLCs would be recommended by 81 per cent of employees, followed by public, government, semi-government or charity employees, with 79 per cent.

Despite high levels of satisfaction, the survey’s statistics show the potential for high levels of churn, with only 10 per cent of UAE employees having never considered leaving their job (compared to 12 per cent of regional respondents). Four out of 10 UAE respondents (41 per cent) are either currently looking or have actively looked for other jobs, with 36 per cent stating that they are willing to leave should an opportunity present itself, even though they are not actively seeking alternative employment.

Data for the Bayt.com “Employee Motivation in the MENA” survey was collected online from December 6-16, 2012, with 10,167 respondents aged 21+, representing Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the UAE.