Emirati ’job hopping’ trend has slowed, say recruiters

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 27 Apr 2016

Private sector organisations in the UAE are getting better at retaining local employees

Emiratis are staying longer in their current roles than ever before rather than job hopping for pay rises, according to industry experts.
Last year, a trend of switching jobs for relatively small salary increases was highlighted as a particular issue in the UAE, and was called out as a barrier to more effective Emiratisation. Essa Al Mulla, executive director at the Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP), claimed it was hurting retention in the private sector, and was being fuelled by increasing numbers of Emirati graduates entering the market.
But Bridget Connolly, business manager of Emiratisation at Hays recruitment, told People Management that things have since changed and Emiratis are no longer prepared to move purely on grounds of salary. “Most nationals are very aware of what is going on in the market right now and if they do move jobs it is for any number of considerations, including a good education allowance for their children, a visible career progression plan, and working for a well-known government or semi-government organisation, as well as salary,” said Connolly.
While an economic downturn is undoubtedly a factor, the change could also be the result of conscious efforts to alter the expectations of younger Emiratis and to educate the private sector about the benefits of employing nationals. Over the past year, the ENDP has focused on advocacy work to change the way organisations look at Emiratis. “They are a potential asset to the organisation and not a liability, so it is in the organisation’s long-term interest to invest the time and effort to mentor and support the career development of young Emiratis,” said Al Mulla.
“Over 2015, we rolled out a number of retention initiatives aimed at improving organisational approaches, and also the attitudes of the Emirati community as a whole towards the private sector."
The ENDP said it was showing Emiratis that although the private sector may not be able to compete with the public sector on salary in the short term, it can provide nationals with a varied career and excellent experience. “In the long term, if the candidate works hard and applies him or herself, they can potentially earn a larger salary than if employed by the government,” said Al Mulla.
Getting nationals to think long term is important to ensure they remain longer in their jobs. “I do not believe that just focussing on salary would lead to long term success,” says Connolly. “Development of talent and skills is critical. It is important that employers continue to invest in their engagement programmes to retain and develop their local employees.”