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Employee engagement GCC: High levels in 2017

Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) recorded high levels of employee engagement in 2017, according to a report by Aon, a leading global professional services firm, as reported by Times of Oman.

Global employee engagement stood at 65%, while employee engagement in the Mena region was above the global average at 69%, marking a five-point increase in 2017, the study revealed.

The GCC continued to record strong employee engagement levels at 70 %, a one-point decline from 2017, according to Aon.

Read: 7 ways to keep employees motivated this summer

UAE and Saudi drop 2 points

The UAE saw engagement levels drop two points from 70 % to 68 %, with the most significant drop being in the field of employee motivation and willingness to try new things for fear of occasional mistakes.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which had previously recorded the highest employee engagement score in the region for two consecutive years, witnessed a two-point drop from 71 % to 69 %.

“The introduction of major economic and social reforms is seen as a potential contributing factor to the decline, reported the Times of Oman.

Read Show me the money: 50% of UAE employees EXPECT a raise

Preparing for future tech
According to the study, companies are now looking at nurturing staff skills and strengthening their technical know-how on technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Businesses have also set increased exposure to senior leadership and strategy as priority areas for their employees.

Christopher Page, CEO for Talent, Rewards, and Performance at Aon Middle East and Africa said: “With increased focus by regional governments on embracing digital technology as a driver for socio-economic progress, it is rewarding to see that businesses are aligned with this vision and investing in building the future-tech skills of their employees.”

“This fits in with the true definition of employee engagement, which is all about the level of an employee’s psychological investment in an organization,” he added.

“Organisations in the Mena region continue to face uncertainty and disruption, but our report underpins the fact that they are making a conscious effort to invest in people and talent strategies that enhance the work experience for long-term success,” said Khalid Youssef, Associate Partner and Employee Engagement Practice Lead at Aon Middle East & Africa.

Read: The UAE digital workspace revolution is employee-driven

Employers cautious but conscious

Employers across the GCC are taking a cautious approach when it comes to their compensation and benefits strategies, with many predicting lower level salary increases, Informa’s sixth annual GCC Compensation and Benefits Trends Report has found, daily Khaleej Times reported.

The Report shows that salary increases are significantly down, with 20.96 % of companies expecting to only give a 3.5 % increase or less. Around 10.5 % of companies expect to implement pay freezes and 3.4 % believe they will have to reduce salaries.

However, plenty of GCC companies are still planning to develop dynamic compensation and benefits strategies this year.

‘Improving employee engagement’ has become the top area of focus for 2018, mentioned by 45.3 % of the survey’s participants.

Read; The secret recipe for retaining your employees

This is closely followed by ‘improving employee retention’, which is up to 41.2%.

“To satisfy these focus areas, more companies are investing in training and development programmes, pension option offerings and vehicles to improve the link between employee performance and pay,” reported the daily.

A similar survey by on current business conditions also showed optimism in the market. According to the ‘Jobseeker Confidence Survey,’ 8 in 10 job seekers expect business conditions in the UAE to ‘improve’ in a year’s time. In regards to the availability of jobs specifically, 6 in 10 job seekers are either ‘somewhat hopeful’ or ‘very hopeful’ that they will find their ideal job in the next 6 months.