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UAE employees unhappy and disloyal?


A new survey has revealed that UAE employees are less happy, satisfied and loyal than the global average. What could the solution for that be?

July 23, 2012 10:43 by

If we stop to consider the nature of the United Arab Emirates’ population, we will find that it is quite the unique one; an enormous expatriate population that land(ed) here from all corners of the globe with hopes and ambitions of earning more money or setting up their own companies; and a small ratio of a national population. What’s more, the expatriate numbers continue to increase as more and more tourists adoringly make plans to move here permanently.

It is not a very common ratio to find, even with all the global diversity that we see. For example, other countries in the GCC also have growing expatriate populations but they also have a large national population to balance it out. The nature of Dubai differentiates it because almost the entirety of its population is there to work. They are not citizens or nationals on the government’s payroll like in every other country but rather just forces of career driven people there to provide for themselves, their families and earn that extra buck that they couldn’t in their home countries.

Perhaps that fleeting nature could explain the results of a survey conducted by the Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study that reveal (to my astonishment) that the level of employee happiness, satisfaction and loyalty among the UAE population is considerably lower than other countries.

The study shows that 42% of employees feel excessive pressure from their job, with 56% also being concerned about their future finances. In addition, only 30% of employees feel their employers support policies that promote employee health and well-being – 12% less than the global average.

On one hand you would consider that the expatriates are here to work so why would they not try their best to be motivated, driven and loyal? But, on the other hand there is such an expanding job market with new companies popping up by the day and it is in the fleeting ‘expatriate’ nature to continue to seek out for a better living.

Approximately 65 percent of the surveyed people said they had their eyes open for another job opening since only 35% revealed that they are satisfied with their current employer. The global average of satisfaction with current employers almost tops 50 percent, making the UAE considerably lower than the world average.

What would a solution for that be? Perhaps we could dial back and relate the nature of corporate operational structure to the population ratio as well. Perhaps since expatriates have a tendency to be more career driven (not necessarily, but in this context) subsequently it could make companies operate with that same force and while that is generally a positive bubble to keep up, it can sometimes have negative repercussions, like focusing too much on corporate pressure and less on human value.

Billy Turriff, business leader for Data, Surveys and Technology at Towers Watson Middle East, said that the results certainly are a reason for concern.

“Overall the research paints a worrying picture of low employee well-being and engagement levels within the UAE. As a result many organisations will be operating with disillusioned workforces that are not realising their full potential,” he said.

Is it the treatment and relationship between the company and its employees that drives them into the arms of another employer or is it simply an insatiable hunger for a higher pay cheque?

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  1. Ben on July 24, 2012 12:31 am

    all this is just normal if you know that what ever you deliver you are at the mercy of many uncontrolled factors and risk to get your bank account freeze and kicked out of the country in a blink of the eye. Stressful environment in crisis time is normal and doesn’t help.

  2. Jess McG on July 24, 2012 10:20 am

    In order to stay in the country you need a visa… this puts you at the “mercy” of your employer = sponsor, and employers take full advantage of this. Coupled with unclear laws and a general lack of employee rights (does the Ministry of Labour actually CARE about individual cases? Me thinks not) this creates a very stressful and unsatisfying work environment. And yes, before you say it, I know… if we don’t like it….


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