High rates of job turnover for UAE workers recorded despite chilly employment environment

High rates of job turnover for UAE workers recorded despite chilly employment environment | Courtesy of Shutterstock
Reports from the past month paint a picture of professionals in the United Arab Emirates looking for the exit doors, searching for better long-term career prospects as economic troubles threaten the GCC country.

A Nov. 8 press release cites the latest Monster Employment Index and other sources indicating that the UAE job market is currently weak in various sectors. Some experts are forecasting a better outlook in 2017 and beyond, citing Expo 2020 and some long-term development projects as having a potential upward impact on employment.

However, that's not likely to help local careerists now. A human resources poll cited in Zawya Nov. 8 shows that over one-third of respondent companies saw more workers moving on over the last three years than previously, even as companies cut jobs and tightened up labor pools.

Ironically, the study indicated that over one-third of respondents said people are trying to change jobs to avoid redundancy. Other reasons for turnover, according to the study, involved “lack of remuneration and/or recognition”; or, in other words, a combination of low pay and lack of career development opportunity.

“While companies are facing economic uncertainty, HR directors have noted that voluntary turnover has increased,” Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half UAE, the company conducting the workforce study, told Gulf News Journal in a recent statement. “The highest reason professionals have cited is concerns over company performance and fear of redundancy, closely followed by insufficient remuneration/recognition. Professionals are becoming wise to the fact that there are other opportunities around, and as such, are wanting to find opportunities that are more suited to their long-term career goals.”

According to Deloitte and other companies, the UAE is not the only place where turnover is a major issue. In fact, some resources from Deloitte show a philosophy arising in modern economics that fosters a sense of impermanence in any job role:

“Under the evolving social contract between employer and employee, workers become “volunteers” to be reengaged and re-recruited each day,” according to a Feb. 29 Deloitte article on Engagement.

For more, Gulf News Journal spoke with Dr. Dmitriy Krichevskiy Friday.

Krichevskiy is an assistant professor of economics at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

“People don't see a path forward for themselves,” he said, citing a lack of career advancement that's found in weak employment environments in general -- for instance, in the down U.S. job market after the 2008 financial crash.

Comparing what’s going on in the UAE to what might happen in the U.S. job market long-term, Krichevskiy said while there are some similarities, there are also a lot of differences.

“They did not have strong unions,” Krichevskiy said, describing the historic lack of organization of UAE labor markets, and suggesting that war and instability in the region also undermine larger career prospects.

“The underlying system is different -- and the outcomes will be different as well,” he said. “The great opportunities that (job hoppers) are seeking may not be there. Dead-end jobs are dead-end jobs, whether they're here or there.”
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