A comprehensive survey quizzing employees across the United Arab Emirates has found four in five residents believe they can fulfill the requirements of their job by working remotely.
The Michael Page Salary Guide and Hiring Insights 2022 Guide, led by recruitment specialist the Page Group, surveyed employees and employers across the country about the outlook of job applicants on key topics including remote working and relocation, mental health and well-being and skills and training. They also studied salary benchmarks, in-demand positions, key skills, as well as recommendations to talent and hiring challenges facing the sector.
Remote working was a new part of the 2022 survey.
When the pandemic struck in early 2020, millions of professionals wondered how they’d cope working from home. Fast forward, and it’s a different story.
More than eight out of 10 of the Michael Page candidates polled believed they could fulfill their tasks or responsibilities remotely.
For their part, it seems that employers are increasingly comfortable working with dispersed teams, with 50 percent of respondents reporting a spike in the number of roles advertised with remote work as part of the package.
Questioned as to whether remote work would impact salaries and benefits, a majority (41 percent) felt they did not see a connection between benefits, salaries, and remote work.
Furthermore, 32 percent of respondents predicted that home workers would receive more targeted benefits like internet supplier and electricity subsidies.
The other 27 percent saw the glass as half empty, highlighting perks and benefits home workers would lose, such as lunch allowances and company cars.
The explosion in flexible working opportunities also aligned with relocation rates.
Nearly 21 percent of respondents said they had relocated since the start of the pandemic.
Almost 10 percent claimed they were planning a move — within the next 12 months and 39 percent sometime in the future.
Most respondents (47 percent) said they are considering a relocation to work and live in a more economically dynamic area, while 43 percent want to relocate to reduce their living costs.
A similarly complex picture of post-COVID aspirations emerged when respondents were asked how relocation would change their employment conditions.
Of those polled, 43 percent said they would look for a job in a different industry.
Mental health in the workplace
Michael Page also surveyed job applicants to find out how they have coped since the outbreak of the pandemic and how they think employers should support staff going forward. It’s not all doom and gloom — when asked to sum up their mood in a single word, almost six in ten candidates responded positively.
“Hopeful” was the most popular choice, followed by “motivated,” suggesting that many professionals are putting the tough times behind them.
Significant reasons behind the optimism could be the partial or complete return to the office, the survey authors wrote.
Only 13 percent of candidates say they experience a sense of isolation whilst working from home.
Furthermore, 33 percent feel that their manager has shown empathy and understanding towards their mental health, however, 20 percent say they are really feeling a greater sense of pressure during these times.
Candidates have also shared coping strategies that have worked best for them: exercise (55 percent of respondents), maintaining contact with friends and loved ones (53 percent) and healthy eating (50 percent).
Building back better
With some employees feeling under pressure, what are companies doing to address mental health challenges?
Of those polled, 55 percent of respondents said their present or last company communicated about mental health, and 56 percent reported that their employers set up actions or policies to address the issue.
The survey also found candidates willing to talk about mental health, with 24 percent of candidates polled said they felt confident to talk about the issue with their managers.
Jon Ede, regional director for the Middle East at the PageGroup, said: “With the very successful launch of the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai, coupled with the UAE’s overall positive handling of the pandemic and other government initiatives, a significant return in market confidence has led to a strong recovery in the UAE job market.”
“A catalyst for change, the pandemic has cemented a long-term impact on the world of work as we knew it. Never has it been more important to understand what attracts, motivates and helps retain talent – understanding these aspects should influence any organizations’ hiring management strategy moving forward,” Ede added.
“Interesting highlights include 85 percent of candidates sharing that their role’s tasks and responsibilities can be done remotely, only 41 percent feeling they have found the right type of opportunity and don’t need a change, and 20 percent who are in the process of changing jobs.”
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