UAE employees care most about compensation and work-life balance

28 March 2023 3 min. read

The UAE’s job market is hot, and as a result, candidates are more likely to be headhunted and in a better to negotiate job conditions. This is according to an international survey from Boston Consulting Group and The Network among more than 30,000 professionals worldwide.

In their joint report, the researchers found that approximately 82% of workers in the UAE are approached with multiple job offers annually, which is higher than the global average of 75%. Moreover, 57% of these employees receive such offers every month.

The findings re-confirm that the job market in the UAE is highly competitive, and suggests employers must offer attractive incentives and working conditions to retain their skilled workforce.

How do you perceive your negotiating position?

Additionally, the report highlights that a significant proportion of job seekers in the UAE, around 73%, perceive themselves to be in a powerful bargaining position during the job search process. This figure is 5% higher than the global average, indicating that employees in the UAE are aware of their position of the labour market – and keen on capitalizing on the potential.

Conversely, only a small fraction of workers (14%) believe that employers hold the upper hand during job negotiations. In the UAE, this percentage is slightly lower at 12%.

“It’s not easy to win over top talent in the UAE,” admitted Christopher Daniel, a Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group.

What are the key deal breakers in a job


According to Daniel, winning over talent leans largely on two strategies: financial compensation and ensuring a positive work-life balance.

“Across the UAE, candidates who are weighing a concrete job offer usually make the financial package their highest priority, and they identify inadequate salaries and bonuses as the biggest deal breakers (16%). Retirement and insurance benefits rank second (13%),” he said. At the same time, when looking for a job, financial compensation (still is) is the main deal breaker.


However, most respondents (67%) to the survey said that they desire, above all, a stable job with a good work-life balance. This preference is observed across all demographics, industries, and job types.

How do you envision your ideal career path

The findings come on the back of growing emphasis placed on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, as employees are grappling with increased workloads, remote work challenges, and personal responsibilities. The Boston Consulting Group study indicates that job seekers are now more inclined to prioritise mental and physical well-being over other job aspects.

For employers, this means that they should place more focus on their employee value proposition, and how their policies keep employees satisfied, committed, and far from a potential burn-out.

Coming into the office is still regarded as a key part of the work-life mix. The majority of respondents in the UAE (58%) cited full-time office presence as their work model of preference. Hybrid work is still popular, but the percentage of respondents favouring that model has dropped from 50% at the height of the pandemic to 34% today.

Daniel stated: “If the past years have taught us anything, is that there is a greater demand for work-life integration. People do not live to work anymore, they work to live. Therefore, employers need to ensure that corporate culture is up to the expectations of modern jobseekers. This may include being able to work from home, having a supportive manager, and having access to family support services.”