Three-quarters of UAE workers expect pay rise in 2022

Three-quarters of UAE workers expect pay rise in 2022


While a whopping 72% of UAE’s professionals are expecting a salary hike this year, less than a third of employers (28%) are planning to improve existing remuneration packages, a new survey has found.

This disparity means many workers say they will be looking for a new job in the first half of this year, with 59% feeling ‘very confident’ about job opportunities in their sector following predictions from the UAE Central Bank that the economy will grow by 4.2% in 2022.

Over the past 18 months, many sectors have seen new starter salaries rise at a faster rate than established workers’ pay, with wages for new hires increasing by 6–8%, going as high as 15–20% in some sectors such as tech and healthcare.

“Many companies decided on their 2022 raises a few months ago before we had a clear picture of how competitive and candidate short the market was going to be,” said Jason Grundy, managing director of recruitment firm Robert Walters (Middle East and Africa).

“Companies who did not adequately reward their staff at the beginning of this year have potentially put themselves at risk of losing some of their best assets, and consequently will find themselves in a bidding war for their own employees as the market continues to heat up. If pay increases are not on the agenda then it is crucial that managers check-in with their team to get an idea of career plans and how they as an employer can assist.”


Pay still the main motivator

In spite of the rise in flexible and hybrid working, salary rises and bonuses remain the main motivators for retaining employees within a business. In fact, two-thirds (64%) of professionals have stated that they would leave their job if they are not offered a pay rise in 2022.

“The real sweet spot for companies is professionals with five-plus years of experience, wherein some sectors such as legal and finance professionals are achieving 20–30% pay increases when moving roles. In technology, the pay rises are even higher, sometimes up to 50% for those with software development or cyber security experience,” said Grundy.

Recruitment firm Hays’ Emiratisation Salary Guide 2022 showed that when asked what they expect to happen to their salary in 2022, 50% of Emiratis said they anticipated a rise, a figure up on the 43% who said the same last year. Some 48% of workers polled said they anticipate their salary to remain the same as in 2021, while 2% expect a decrease.