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Employee Benefits Critical for Talent Retention in Evolving Middle East Workforce – Zurich Survey reports

1 in 4 employees in the UAE & KSA have navigated job transitions within the past year seeking financial wellness and career advancements

 

The evolving state of the work landscape in the Middle East, particularly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is undergoing significant changes. With one in four employees switching jobs in the past year, retaining talent is becoming a top priority for employers. New research, commissioned by Zurich International Life in the Middle East and conducted by market research company Radius Insights, highlights the vital role of employee benefits in retaining and attracting talent in a competitive market.

The research, conducted in July and August 2023, surveyed 2,507 respondents in the UAE and KSA, of which 1,255 were employers and 1,252 employees. It aims to shed light on how central aspects of the work landscape, such as talent shortage, employee benefits and workplace culture, have evolved in the region over the past year.

 

Factors Driving Job Change

A remarkable 25% of employees in the UAE and KSA have changed jobs in the last year, drawn by better remuneration, enhanced employee benefits, and professional advancement opportunities. This trend is gaining momentum, with most employees expressing a strong intent to explore new job opportunities in the next 12 to 18 months. In KSA, 78% of employees are considering changing jobs, with a similar sentiment shared by 74% of their UAE counterparts. Notably, women and younger employees in the 25-34 age group are particularly proactive in exploring new career opportunities.

Flexibility within the workplace emerges as a key factor when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, from both an employer and employee perspective. Other critical factors relate to the importance of having a diverse workforce and addressing pay gaps in the market. With a clear call for action and strategy to retain talent, the UAE government is also contributing with a range of initiatives to solidify its standing as a preferred destination for global talent. Some of the notable reforms introduced include an investment-related end-of-service benefit scheme for private sector employees, unemployment insurance, the adoption of a condensed working week and new categories of leaves.

 

Talent Shortage Looms Amid Dissatisfaction with Employee Benefits

Both the UAE and KSA are grappling with a significant talent shortage, standing at approximately 24% and 30%, respectively. This shortage is most pronounced in the Operations and Logistics sectors in both countries. Employers are increasingly aware of the impending impact of this talent shortage on their operations. New Emiratization laws for the private sector further complicate the talent acquisition landscape, affecting employers' ability to find the right talent fit.

When it comes to employee benefits, there's a clear gap observed between what employers currently offer and what employees wish to receive, with more than one-third of employees in the UAE and KSA expressing dissatisfaction with their current employee benefits packages, especially concerning workplace savings, financial wellbeing education, life insurance, child education allowances and critical illness cover.

 

Understanding Employee Priorities

Employee benefits remain central to establishing long-term relationships between employers and employees, with nearly 9 out of 10 employees surveyed considering employee benefits an extremely important pillar, often surpassing the importance of salary.

Contributing her views on the research insights, Swarnaleka Shetty Vyas, Head of Sales & Distribution, Corporate Life & Pensions at Zurich International Life, emphasized “In a dynamic work environment, fostering employee retention requires focus on not just financial rewards but also aligning values and nurturing a cohesive work culture. Right from prioritizing the mental well-being of employees to implementing long-term incentive plans, all of it will contribute immensely to retaining talent.” Vyas further highlighted the growing significance of financial wellness and trust among employees, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts to shape a promising positive future of work culture.

 

The Role of Employee Benefits

The research underscores the pivotal role of employee benefits in attracting and retaining talent. An overwhelming 84% of employees surveyed stated they would willingly change jobs for a new role with the same pay but better employee benefits. Employers must thus adapt to changing needs by introducing employee benefits that address critical goals valued most by employees.

Adam Watterson, Senior Executive Officer at Zurich Workplace Solutions, said: “Employee benefits have taken centre stage and are rapidly evolving, pushing employers to adopt a holistic approach to talent retention. One of the trending areas is workplace savings and pensions for expatriates concerned about their retirement planning. End-of-service benefits will play a pivotal role in drawing talent from international markets and fostering financial stability. The global pandemic drove both employers and employees to rethink priorities, and employers have become more accommodative to include mutually beneficial retention policies."

The immense revelation for employers in the UAE and KSA is the remarkable transformation in employee motivation, where enhanced employee benefits now surpass competitive pay as the key driver for talent attraction and retention. Employers must proactively reassess and elevate their employee benefits packages, with a laser focus on critical aspects such as workplace savings, financial well-being education, life insurance, child education allowance and critical illness cover. The shift in employee priorities does not only gives employers an opportunity to position themselves as an employer of choice but also helps them build enduring mutually beneficial relationships with employees in a fiercely competitive job market.

For more details on the research and its findings, please refer to the full report here.

 

​​About Zurich Insurance Group

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer serving people and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Founded 150 years ago, Zurich is transforming insurance. In addition to providing insurance protection, Zurich is increasingly offering prevention services such as those that promote well-being and enhance climate resilience.

Reflecting on its purpose to ‘create a brighter future together’, Zurich aspires to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. It is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 and has the highest possible ESG rating from MSCI. In 2020, Zurich launched the Zurich Forest project to support reforestation and biodiversity restoration in Brazil.

The Group has about 56,000 employees and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information is available at www.zurich.com.

 

About Zurich International Life Limited

Zurich International Life Limited is a part of Zurich Insurance Group and was established in the Isle of Man, which is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority with established and registered branches in the UAE licensed by the Central Bank of the UAE, Bahrain licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Qatar Financial Centre authorised by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority. In the UAE, it is registered (Registration No. 63) under UAE Federal Law Number 6 of 2007, and its activities in the UAE are governed by such law. Further information about Zurich International Life is available at www.zurich.ae.

 

About Zurich Workplace Solutions

Zurich Workplace Solutions (Middle East) Limited (ZWS), part of the Zurich Insurance Group entities operating within the Middle East, is a DIFC-based company. As an administrator of the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings (DEWS) scheme, ZWS provides support to employers and employees through the administration and management of the DEWS plan. This includes enrolment of employers and employees, management of contributions, onboarding new joiners and supporting leavers, enablement of the investment process and administering withdrawals. ZWS also provides an online portal and member app wherein employers and employees have real-time access to plan information, as well as assistance and guidance through a DIFC-based support team and contact centre.

Zurich Workplace Solutions is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.
More information about ZWS is available at: https://zws.zurich.ae/about-zws.html


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