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Tue 19 Feb 2008 12:00 AM

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Salary Survey FAQ

If you have a question, or just want an overview of the Salary Survey's findings, this is the best place to start.

If you have a question, or just want an overview of the Salary Survey's findings, this is the best place to start.

How was this survey done?

This survey was marketed only to ArabianBusiness.com readers and subscribers of its newsletters.

The newsletter is sent to over 120,000 readers every day, while the site attracts over 600,000 visitors each month.

In total 8914 surveys had been completed. 7809 of those were from the GCC and used in this survey.

In total respondents to the survey, who came from 121 nationalities, were asked 28 questions about their salary and their attitudes towards the employment market.

It is the most comprehensive study of white collar workers this region has seen.

What is the temperature of employees in the Gulf right now?

The labour market has been shaken by the rising cost of living and employees are restless.

Inflation surged to record highs across the Gulf last year, hitting 14% in Qatar, 7.6% in Oman, 6.2% in Kuwait, 6% in Saudi and 4.9% in Bahrain. Inflation hit a 19-year high of 9.3% in the UAE in 2006, the last official figure.

Less than half of employees received a pay rise large enough to cover rising costs - which means that last year over half of the region's employees effectively had a pay cut .

Are rising costs of living affecting the attractiveness of the region as a place to come and work?

Obviously. People have traditionally come to this region for a better standard of life and a chance to save. This is becoming more difficult.

Employees are reacting to this by looking for better paid jobs . According to the survey over two thirds of people said they are more likely to look for another job this year than in 2007.

In total 32.43% of people looking for alternative employment gave rising cost of living as the single most important reason they are doing so.

Another 21.49% gave insufficient salary as the reason.

That's over 1 in 2 people identifying that - directly and indirectly - inflation is making this region less attractive for them.

Are GCC employees underpaid?

They think they are - which is nearly all that matters. Over two thirds of employees in the GCC believe that their salary falls below the industry average for their position. This is a higher figure than found in international markets such as the UK or India.

The survey does not actually benchmark salaries so does not address the reality of those perceptions.

Is it really the case that locals earn a fortune while expatriates earn much less?

Not at all . Our finding show that US and European expatriates, in general, are paid more than their local counterparts.

What's the good news for employers?

The good - and bad news - for employers - is that employees are not willing to move unless they get a substantial financial reward for doing so - over 54% of workers in the GCC demanding a rise of 30% and above

That's a barrier to rival companies wanting to recruit their staff, and to employees finding easy solutions to mounting bills.

However for companies wanting to grow and take on staff, it potentially also means a hefty addition to the wage bill.

How can employers retain, and grow their workforce?

Well, the obvious answer is to pay people more - but that's not what employers are going to want to hear.

It's also not as simple as that. While over one third of people put salary down as the single most important thing that drives them, almost as many stated opportunities for promotion as their key driver.

Employers need to create that kind of environment.

Moreover there are considerable differences between nationalities, seniority levels and countries as to what employees want. Most retention policies fail because they assume we all want the same thing - the survey shows that's clearly not the truth.

Europeans, South Africans and Americans are strongly driven by salary - over 50% stated it was their single most important driver. However, only around 14% of UAE nationals, chose it. For local populations across the region promotion prospects are far more important - as is the respect of their peers. Indian workers are more aligned with nationals than with Western expats.

Different seniorities of employee also display different desires. Senior managers are interested in salaries, shares and peer respect. Middle ranking employees are interested in opportunities for promotion, while junior level employees have a higher preference for training than average.

Companies that don't want to throw a lot of money at the problem are going to have to throw a lot of work into it instead in putting together a retention policy that addresses different needs for nationalities, GCC countries and seniority.

Are skilled workers likely to leave en masse?

No. The survey shows quite clearly that although salary is important, as important are opportunities for growth .

The GCC is one of the most exciting regions in the world, and across the board there are opportunities to be had that you will not find in any developed market.

That said employers with a game plan will have a better time of it.

It is clear for anyone involved in recruitment in the GCC that is becoming harder to source employees and to keep the talent they have. It will not get any easier this year.

What is the salary calculator all about?

Simple - it is a way for you to find out how well your peers are paid for the job that you do.

Simply enter your present salary, where you are based and - if you want to, your nationality - and you will get a median range for your salary position.

We will continue to refine this over time, so that answers become even more accurate.

Why did you add nationality as a criterion? Surely it's only about the job and where it is?

In the GCC there can be significant nationality differences in pay. This report offers no opinion on the rightness or wrongness regarding this, merely reports it so a more accurate understanding of this market is possible.

However the survey does reveal some interesting reasons as to why salary differences may exist, which may lie in the preferences of the cultures concerned.

Europeans and North Americans are highly focused on salary, and are willing to switch jobs and move to other companies far more than local or subcontinent employees.

Local populations and sub-continent workers have a much higher focus than Western expats on opportunities for promotion and peer recognition from their peers.

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