Salaries are looking up, with the majority of regional employers expecting increases this year [i.e. 2016], recruitment experts say, writes Ben Flanagan.
But that doesn’t mean you should keep your head down and quietly wait for a bigger paycheque to arrive, they caution.
Although recruitment growth in the Arabian Gulf is on the decline, according to Monster.com figures, the prospects look good for existing employees to land a raise, a separate survey found.
Global recruitment group Hays found that 63 percent of 200 employers surveyed expect salary increases of up 10 percent in 2016, while 8 percent forecast a hike of 10 percent or more.
That means a total of 71 percent of regional employers expect some increase, according to a Hays regional salary survey due to be published in January 2016.
That is however no reason not to be proactive in asking for a raise, said Chris Greaves, managing director of Hays Middle East.
“Requesting a pay rise is often seen as a taboo or ‘difficult to approach’ topic,” Mr Greaves told Benchmark.
“However, our survey showed that proactively seeking a rise is a good strategy as it did result in positive outcomes for those who set about getting one.
“Interestingly, of the 50 percent of survey respondents that received a pay rise in 2015, 25 percent were individually determined rather than a company-wide increase (23 percent).”
How to get a raise
Employees should however prepare carefully before negotiating a pay rise, the recruitment firm advises.
They should consider factors such as whether they actually deserve better pay, taking into account appraisals and set objectives, and whether their responsibilities and qualifications have changed.
Employees should also ask themselves whether they are going that “extra mile”, what their ambitions are, how much more money they actually want, and whether they are prepared to take on more responsibility, Hays advises.
Think about your weaknesses and – crucially – consider what you will do if your request is turned down, before setting that all-important meeting with the boss, the recruitment firm says.
Mr Greaves said that human resources (HR) was the sector showing some of the broadest variations in salaries, having both the largest proportion of decreases – with 4 percent of HR professionals saying their pay was lower in 2015 – and the largest proportion of increases, with 56 percent of those surveyed saying their pay rose.
The energy sector has certainly come under scrutiny this year, given the massive drop in oil prices. But, perhaps surprisingly, salaries in that field are not forecast to decline, according to Mr Greaves.
“Whilst there has been a huge reduction in oil prices and recruitment globally, the UAE and indeed the GCC have pushed ahead with the majority of projects that were already in plan,” he said.
“Recruitment in drilling has slowed as exploration at previous levels has all but stopped; however almost all the other areas of the industry are still recruiting, as such salaries are holding steady with no forecasted reduction.”
Dip in jobs growth
Despite that, figures from jobs website Monster.com show that recruitment in the Middle East oil and gas industry saw the steepest decline of all sectors in the year to November 2015.
That month’s Monster Employment Index, a monthly gauge of online job posting activity in the region, found an overall slowing of recruitment growth compared with the second and third quarters of 2015.
But the energy sector was particularly badly hit, with a 20 percent year-on-year plunge in regional job listings, according to Monster.com.
Sanjay Modi, the managing director of Monster.com in the Middle East, India, South East Asia and Hong Kong, said the decline in oil prices had hit other sectors as well.
Economic growth in the GCC “has slowed down due to the low oil price environment, which has adversely affected growth in the non-oil sectors as well. The job market has not been spared either,” he said.
“We have already seen major job cuts announced by both local and international organisations… We expect the slowdown in job demand to continue, in line with the International Monetary Fund’s regional economic outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia.”
However, Mr Modi said the region remains “resilient”, thanks to activity outside the energy sector.
“The oil price environment has stressed the importance of a well-diversified economy and we are optimistic in terms of job creation and future job demand from non-oil sectors,” he said.