UAE Nationals engaging more in Private Sector Jobs

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UAE nationals working in the private sector report significantly higher levels of engagement compared to their counterparts in the public sector, reveals survey

UAE nationals engaging more in private sector jobs
UAE nationals working in the private sector report significantly higher levels of engagement compared to their counterparts in the public sector, reveals survey (photo for illustrative purposes only)

Key highlights from the report

  • Engagement levels significantly higher in private sector (60%) compared to public sector (34%)
  • Despite favourable working conditions in the public sector such as job security, attrition rates are higher in the public sector (30%) compared to private sector (14%)
  • Study found no significant overall difference in satisfaction with work/life balance for nationals working in the public and private sectors.
  • UAE Nationals working in the private sector have significantly higher satisfaction levels than those in the public sector
  • Compared to Qataris who registered 51% engagement levels, just under 42% of Emiratis feel engaged in the workplace
  • Overall employee engagement in the GCC decreased from 54% in 2010 to 49.5% in two years, engagement levels for expats working in the region have remained consistent

Research by Aon Hewitt reveals that UAE nationals working in the private sector report significantly higher levels of engagement (60%), compared to their counterparts in the public sector (34%). The report highlights that the private sector in the UAE is making significant headway in terms of engaging national talent, despite the widely held perception that the public sector is the preferred employment route for nationals.

The findings come from Aon Hewitt’s latest Qudurat study, a pioneering research initiative focused on understanding what drives and motivates the talent in the region, with an emphasis on understanding national talent. The research includes participation from more than 100 public and private institutions including Gulf Air, Emirates NBD, Alghanim Industries and Dolphin Energy.

Favourable working conditions in the public sector such as job security, status and regulated working hours have traditionally been seen as key engagement factors for Emiratis. However, the Qudurat findings show that 30% of nationals are at high risk of attrition in the public sector compared to only 14% in the private sector. In addition, whilst the public sector is often viewed as providing a better work/life balance opportunities for its employees, the study found no significant overall difference in satisfaction with work/life balance for nationals working in the public and private sectors.

Dr. Markus Wiesner, Chief Executive Officer at Aon Hewitt Middle East said:

“The Qudurat findings demonstrate a change in attitudes among nationals towards working in the private sector. This is good news as a whole for the UAE economy as it continues to diversify and look towards its local talent pool for sustainable skills and future business leaders. Based on the findings the private sector is clearly doing something right in terms of attracting and engaging national talent.”

Emiratis working in the private sector also report significantly higher satisfaction levels than those in the public sector when it comes to key employee experiences such as learning and development opportunities (public sector nationals: 36%, private sector nationals: 59%), confidence in the leadership (public sector nationals: 36%, private sector nationals: 48%), and recognition within the organization (public sector nationals: 49%, private sector nationals: 67%).

As part of the Qudurat initiative, Aon Hewitt has also conducted a nationalization practices survey with participation from leading regional organizations who provided insights on the prevalence and effectiveness of their current nationalization initiatives. In addition, Aon Hewitt gathered the career preferences, choices and influences of higher education students. Insights gained have helped shape Aon Hewitt’s Nationalization Accelerator programme which entails five core solution offers geared to help clients envision, implement and measure the effectiveness of their nationalization practices.

“Despite obvious progress in engaging nationals, there is still some way to go. For example, just under 42% of Emiratis feel engaged in the workplace compared to their Qatari neighbours who registered 51% engagement levels. Both the corporate and political will exist to make nationalization a reality but the business community is lacking the tools to make it happen,” added Dr. Markus Wiesner.

Aon Hewitt predicts a shift in employment trends in the UAE: “Transitioning from an economy fed by natural resources to one driven by human capital continues to be the real test for national leaders, policy makers and organizational decision makers. Employers in the region must prepare for the changes that will transform the work places of tomorrow,” concluded Dr. Markus Wiesner.

While overall employee engagement in the GCC has decreased from 54% in 2010 to 49.5% in two years, engagement levels for expats working in the region have remained consistent at 57% in 2010 and 56% in 2012. According to the research, expats are most engaged in Bahrain and Kuwait, followed by the UAE and Qatar. The lowest engaged levels among expats are seen in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The key findings of the research project were revealed yesterday by Aon Hewitt to over 100 HR professionals and heads of nationalization at an event at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai. Guest speakers Zafar Raja, CEO of Serco and Essa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Emirates National Development Program, also presented insights from the perspectives of industry and government.

“Nationalization is a strategic priority for Serco Middle East and our vision is to have talented nationals who are achieving, growing and taking up positions of leadership in countries in which we operate. The Aon Hewitt Qudurat report helped provide valuable insight in to what motivates and drives nations around the GCC and will  assist future employers better understand prospective and current employees,” said Zafar Raja, CEO Serco Middle East.

Aon Hewitt has been conducting the Qudurat survey since 2010, on the basis that only by gaining in-depth knowledge of the individual capabilities and motivational drivers that determine the performance and productivity of the region’s workforce, can a true understanding of the talent landscape be gained.

The survey is part of Aon Hewitt’s suite of evidence-based, research-led studies including the Salary Increase Survey, Best Employers Middle East (BEME), Total Compensation Measurement (TCM™) and People Risk Index (PRI®).

A precis of the Qudurat survey’s main findings can be downloaded here: http://www.aon.com/middle-east/thought-leadership/hr/qudurat-research-report.jsp

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