One third of Middle East workers eyeing new job

16 January 2023 3 min. read

While the ‘great resignation’ has most famously hit employers hard in western economies, large waves of people have also been re-evaluating their roles in economies around the world. In the Middle East, staff have exited long-term roles for better conditions or more purpose in recent years, with one-third of staff considering moving on in the coming year.

Economic transformations across the Middle East hinge upon the ability to source top talent. However, a survey from PwC recently found that across GCC economies including Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, there was a strain on available talent equipped with digital skills.

In line with many other economies around the world, one key factor contributing to this seems to be the Great Resignation. Following the lockdown months of the pandemic, where the ‘essential’ nature of most employees’ work was praised continuously, the post-lockdown era has seen a rising number of workers re-evaluate their lot in life.

Most important factors when considering a job change, % of respondents

If their employers see them as ‘essential’, they expect pay and conditions which adequately reflect that – and if employers are not forthcoming with that, staff are happy to look elsewhere.

According to the study from PwC, 30% of respondents in the Middle East are ‘extremely or very likely’ to look for a new job in the next year on this basis. This is considerably higher proportion than the global survey average of 19%, but roughly in line with similar studies in the United Kingdom and United States

The survey, which gathered information from over 1,500 workers across the region, found that generally, Middle East employees prioritise upskilling opportunities, transparency, flexibility and wellbeing at work. However, when the Big Four firm examined data on employees who said they were considering an exit, the researchers found a different pattern.

How likely people are to take the following actions in the workplace (% of respondents)

One-third of respondents still valued things like the opportunity to be creative, finding fulfilment in their work, or ‘being themselves’ important. But amid the rapid inflation and economic instability currently gripping the global economy, the importance placed on a fair wage has risen. A larger 41% chunk prioritised being fairly rewarded financially for their labour.

Following on from this, the vast majority of staff said that they were likely to ask for a raise in the coming 12 months. A 54% portion of respondents said they were ‘very likely’ to ask for a higher salary in the year ahead, with 35% also saying they were moderately likely to do so. Only 9% said they would not.

Actions employers are taking to address skills and labour shortages (% of respondents)

Similar numbers said they would be asking for a promotion in the coming months – something which would also presumably include higher wages. This means that while managers might still be hoping to convince workers to stay on with promises of ‘flexible working’ and ‘workplace wellness’ may need to re-evaluate how seriously they are taking the threat of staff heading for the door – or face the consequences of a workplace exodus.

Randa Bahsoun, a partner at PwC, commented, “In the age of the ‘great resignation’, it is imperative for employers to keep pace with the demands and wishes of talent or they will look elsewhere to get what they desire from their workplace.”