Navigating the Evolving Recruitment Landscape in the MENA Region
The recruitment scene in the MENA region, particularly in the technology, finance, and trading sectors, is undergoing significant changes, driven by digital transformation, market demands, and a growing commitment to diversity and sustainability.
Halian released its first-ever GCC Market Report and Salary Guide that showed that there was a slight dip in job openings in the middle of 2023 influenced by various economic factors and global events. The salary survey wanted to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date information on compensation trends within the Middle East. Stuart Fry, CEO at Halian, said that this report was “not just a reflection of current salary benchmarks but a narrative of the evolving job market trends in this region.”
Salary increases in the GCC, according to the Halian report, are predominantly influenced by two significant factors: performance and job changes. Approximately 33 percent of salary increments are attributed to employee performance. A substantial 25 percent of employees reported receiving higher salaries due to job transitions, confirming a dynamic job market where opportunities for advancement and career growth are prevalent.
Compensation Trends: A Sector-Specific Overview
A critical aspect of employee satisfaction and engagement revolves around transparency in pay structures. Almost half of the respondents in the Halian study in both Saudi Arabia (45 percent) and the UAE (49 percent) reported that their companies lack transparency in how pay raises are determined. This revelation highlights a substantial issue within the corporate landscape, as unclear compensation policies can lead to employee disengagement, frustration, and potential talent attrition.
Vikram Malhotra, Managing Director, MENA, at Outsized, observed that in finance and technology consulting, the MENA region is seeing a surge in demand for skilled professionals. “This is driving compensation upwards, especially for roles requiring specialized skills. Notably, there's a shift towards more flexible pay structures, including milestone and performance-based bonuses,” Malhotra added.
Dicle Ture Cetinkaya, Founder at Tech Talent Hub, agreed that in the tech industry, career progression is becoming more important than ever. She added, “Tech Talents are seeking purposeful, challenging, interesting opportunities where they can leverage their strengths or develop new skill sets in the areas that they’d like to focus more. Where the majority of employees are planning to change jobs with career advancement and better salary and compensation motivations, companies should implement skill-based and clear career paths as an effective talent attraction and retention strategy. This skill-based approach should be supported by training and development programs to upskill their employees.”
HR Manager for Dahbashi Engineering, Manu Sharma, noticed that in the trading sector, compensation trends hinged on factors like specialization, experience, and seniority. Employees with specialized expertise and adaptability to market changes are seeing more favourable trends in compensation.
The Role of DEI and ESG in Hiring
Both Malhotra and Sharma emphasize the increasing importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals in the recruitment process. Malhotra notes that employers are incorporating these principles into their strategies, aligning with ethical standards and enhancing reputation. Sharma reflects this, stating that Dahbashi Engineering actively recruits from diverse backgrounds and aligns with environmental sustainability goals.
Looking Ahead: Trends and Expectations for 2024
Looking ahead to the year 2024, a substantial 83 percent of respondents are contemplating a change in their professional trajectory. Among the key determinants influencing this decision, improved compensation and benefits emerge as the clear frontrunner, demonstrating the value placed on financial security and recognition for one’s contributions. This shift in sentiment towards prioritising holistic remuneration packages reflects an increasingly informed and discerning workforce.
In tandem with this forward-looking mindset, an encouraging 68 percent of employees are actively engaged in pursuing additional education and certification. This proactive approach underscores a commitment to continuous learning and skill development, positioning them for success in an ever-evolving job market. This inclination towards upskilling is particularly pertinent considering the numerous upcoming projects in the region, notably the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 initiative and other pivotal endeavours in the UAE. These initiatives promise a surge in opportunities across various sectors, aligning seamlessly with the career aspirations and growth trajectories of these proactive employees.
The collective optimism, coupled with a strategic approach towards skill enhancement and career development, lays a robust foundation for sustained growth and prosperity in the region. The convergence of these factors suggests that Middle Eastern employees are poised to not only weather the challenges of today but also seize the opportunities of tomorrow with confidence and determination.
Outsized’s Malhotra predicts steady growth in the technology and finance consulting sectors, driven by digitalization and financial innovation. Key focus areas include emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, and cloud computing, alongside sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
The recruitment landscape in the MENA region is dynamic and evolving, shaped by technological advancements, market needs, and a growing emphasis on responsible business practices. As industries adapt to these changes, the demand for skilled professionals who can navigate this complex environment will continue to rise.