By Sam Bridge
Mercer survey highlights concerns about a lack of women in senior management positions in the UAE
Average salaries in the UAE are forecast to grow by 4.5 percent next year, according to new data from Mercer, a global consulting firm.
Its annual Total Remuneration Survey (TRS) of more than 500 companies in the UAE also revealed the annual salary increase this year was also 4.5 percent.
The overall hiring outlook in the UAE is also positive with 45 percent of respondents planning to increase their headcount and 52 percent looking to maintain headcount in 2020.
But the survey also highlighted concerns about a lack of women in senior management positions and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) roles.
It said that the largest salary increase in 2020 will be seen in the life sciences industries at 4.6 percent.
While forecasts vary across specific industries, the energy industry will continue to see some of the lowest increase in salaries with a projected 3.7 percent increase in 2020, compared to a 3.6 percent increase in 2019, Mercer's research said.
UAE companies are providing higher increases to executives and managers than they are to other employee levels, signalling increased attention to leadership skills, it noted.
Ted Raffoul, career products leader, MENA at Mercer said: “It is very encouraging to see that a large segment of UAE employers are looking to increase salaries in 2020. This is a reflection of a resilient and optimistic economy.
"The UAE is constantly looking at new approaches to progress and develop the workforce further. In addition to annual increases in base salary, UAE companies are also making progress in regards to long-term incentives. The recent introduction of enhanced employee benefits in DIFC, for example, will help companies attract and retain the valuable talent needed to advance and transform different sectors in the region.”
Overall, inflation and unemployment rates in the UAE have continued to gradually decrease, a positive impact to the country’s GDP growth, which is forecasted to steadily increase in the coming year, Mercer said.
It added that the voluntary turnover rate increased to more than 7 percent in 2019, an increase from almost 5 percent in 2017, representing growth over three consecutive years.
The survey also looked at pay parity between men and women across different industries in the region and concluded that there is a lack of women in senior management positions and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) roles.
Raffoul said: “The low ratio of women in leading roles across the UAE is concerning, especially because the current roles predominantly held by women will eventually become obsolete due to the increase in automation among various sectors.
"In contrast STEM roles are expected to grow at the fastest rate, but women are underrepresented in these careers paths. However, in line with the UAE Vision 2021, the country is quickly combatting this issue. For instance, the government established the UAE Gender Balance Council to ensure that Emirati women continue to play a key role in the development of the country.
He added: "That being said, it is an important responsibility for both the public and private sector to ensure an effective gender balance. Ensuring more opportunities for women in the workplace, especially in senior roles, has been proven to help organisations perform better than their less inclusive peers and will benefit the overall economy.”