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Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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Many employees working in Qatar believe their pay is failing to keep pace with ongoing increases in the cost of living, according to the results of a recent regional survey of workers’ salaries.

While a slim majority of expats still say they’re better off living and working in Qatar than their home countries, human resources experts say local employers need to address the perceived compensation gap if they want to recruit and retain talented professionals.

The latest study of salaries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by online recruitment company Bayt.com and market research agency YouGov found that 85 percent of Qatar respondents said they felt the cost of living in this country rose during 2014.

However, more than a third (38 percent) said they did not get any increase in their salaries during the year to compensate.

Of those who felt their daily costs had gone up last year, more than a quarter (27 percent) said their expenses had increased by more than 20 percent.

Higher rent, food and utility bills were the key reasons for the increased costs, respondents said.

Excerpt from 2015 MENA salaries survey

Bayt.com

Excerpt from 2015 MENA salaries survey

Looking ahead, 80 percent of Qatar employees predicted their living costs would keep rising throughout this year, compared to slightly more than half (55 percent) who expected to receive a salary raise during the same period.

Residents across the Gulf appear to be expecting a more expensive year ahead, though not to the same extent as those in Qatar. The percentage of respondents in nearby nations who also forecast increased living costs in 2015 were:

  • Kuwait (80 percent);
  • UAE (79 percent);
  • Oman (77 percent);
  • Saudi Arabia (75 percent); and
  • Bahrain (71 percent).

Citing reasons for their static salaries, 21 percent said it was due to “poor corporate performance and decreased profitability of their company” while nearly a quarter (24 percent) attributed it to a “bad economy,” the survey found.

Economic impact

Falling global oil prices have affected companies in Qatar, particularly in the energy sector where some firms are reining in non-essential spending, laying off staff or implementing hiring freezes.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s cost of living keeps climbing, mainly due to increases in residential rent as the nation’s growing hospitality, healthcare and construction sectors fuel demand for housing.

Real estate experts previously told Doha News that the supply of quality housing is not keeping up with need, meaning residential rent is expected to continue climbing at a rate of 5 to 10 percent throughout 2015.

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Patrick Gage/Flickr

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According to Bayt.com, higher living costs appeared to have had an impact on some employees’ savings, with nearly a fifth of Qatar respondents admitting they saved nothing from their monthly salaries last year.

However this is less than the regional average, where nearly a third (32 percent) said they saved nothing during 2014.

In contrast, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of people working in Qatar said they managed to send some money home last month, and more than half of all respondents (53 percent) said they were better off in Qatar in terms of their quality of life than they would be if they were working and living in their home countries.

Suhail Al-Masri, vice-president of sales for Bayt.com, said the survey findings showed “a growing gap between the cost of living in Qatar and salary earnings and propensity to save.”

In a statement, he added:

“Most respondents (79 per cent) from across the Middle East and North Africa region are expecting a further increase in the cost of living in 2015. This means that employers must quickly address this widening disparity if they want to effectively tap into the local and regional talent pool.”

Data for the latest Bayt.com survey was collected online from March 30 to April 6. Results were based on a sample of 12,158 respondents from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Are you expecting a raise this year? Thoughts?

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Careerealism.com

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Six out of 10 Qatar residents surveyed are actively looking to switch companies, according to a new regional job satisfaction report by Bayt.com and YouGov.

According to the poll, which questioned 5,774 people from 13 countries last month, Qatar employees are most likely to want to leave their current employers over low base salaries (67 percent), lack of career growth opportunities (63 percent) and lack of training opportunities (44 percent).

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photologue_np/Flickr

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The percentage of people who said they are looking to change jobs is about on par with the rest of the MENA region, where respondents expressed little confidence in their superiors. Additionally, only three out of 10 said they believed company morale was high.

That said, some 45 percent of Qatar respondents said they enjoyed going to work every day, compared to 44 percent regionally.

And Qatar employees appeared to enjoy better benefit packages than many of their regional counterparts:

  • Some 49 percent here have transportation to/from work, compared to 35 percent across the Middle East;
  • About 61 percent have company-provided accommodation, versus 35 percent overall; and
  • Some 12 percent have their children’s school fees covered, compared to 8 percent of respondents across the region.

However, only 50 percent of respondents in Qatar had company-provided health insurance, compared to 63 percent in the region, and 19 percent had insurance for their family members, compared to 30 percent overall.

What employees want

The latest Bayt survey also appears to show an increase in job dissatisfaction among Qatar residents.

It found that while 36 percent of respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with their present jobs (compared to 40 percent in the region), some 65 percent were somewhat or very dissatisfied (compared to 60 percent in the region).

Job satisfaction responses

Bayt.com

Job satisfaction responses

In January, those figures seemed considerably lower, with 34 percent of Qatar residents polled saying they were somewhat or very unhappy with their jobs.

At that time, salary and benefits were the single biggest issue in choosing a job (84 percent), compared to job security, which was the key attraction for only just over a quarter of prospective job hunters in Qatar.

Besides boosting pay, Bayt.com said that companies here could help increase job satisfaction and retain their employees by offering more training opportunities.

In a statement, the company’s vice president of sales Suhail Masri said:

“It is interesting to see that only 31% of respondents are happy with training in their company, when the most important factor related to job satisfaction in the region is learning and personal growth.

Companies should thus invest more time and effort in training their employees, ensuring that they have a clear career path, satisfying pay, and a job that gives them a sense of achievement and the opportunity to give back to their community.”

Here’s the full survey:

Thoughts?

Jun Ong/Flickr

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A recent survey has found that many employees in Qatar feel financially insecure, dissatisfied with their jobs and are considering moving abroad to find work elsewhere.

The results of the latest Career Aspirations in Middle East and North Africa online study, conducted by Bayt.com and YouGov, show that Qatar workers’ wanderlust reflects a similar sentiment across the MENA region.

Overall, 73 percent of all respondents said they would consider relocating internationally to find better employment. The poll included responses from some 8,963 residents in a dozen countries, suggesting that the local findings represent a small proportion of Qatar’s population.

The large number of respondents who say they would consider employment in another country could be driven in part by the significant population of expats working in the Gulf, many of whom are on fixed contracts or only plan to live abroad for a relatively short period.

The UAE is the favored destination for those currently working in Qatar, at 39 percent.

Notably, while many residents based here are looking at employment opportunities outside the country, Qatar is perceived to be an attractive location for those currently working elsewhere in the region.

Across the region, Qatar comes out as the joint-second choice of place to work, along with Saudi Arabia, for 13 percent of those surveyed.

The findings paint a complex picture of working life in Qatar. While the country’s multiple infrastructure projects make it an attractive destination for many of those working outside the state, some of the figures reflect a concern by current residents about rising costs.

Satisfaction

Only one-third of Qatar respondents said they were happy with their work environment, making Qatar workers among the least-satisfied in the GCC, after Bahrain where just 24 percent expressed their satisfaction.

Excerpt of Career Aspiration in Middle East and North Africa survey

Bayt.com

Excerpt of Career Aspiration in Middle East and North Africa survey

While a sizable percentage of people polled (32 percent) were indifferent to their working situation, Qatar also had the highest proportion of those who were very or somewhat unhappy with their job, at 34 percent. Employees in Saudi followed just behind, with 32 percent dissatisfaction.

In comparison, employees in Oman appear to be most content in their jobs in the Gulf (41 percent).

Money worries

Asked about their top problems, financial issues came out first in Qatar for more than half of all respondents (53 percent). Other concerns included:

  • Career path uncertainty (38 percent);
  • Concern about work/life balance (31 percent); and
  • Worry about employment/loss of job (24 percent).

Less than half (47 percent) of those quizzed said they had their perfect job in Qatar, while only just over half (58 percent) of Qatar employees said they were motivated at work.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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Reflecting the desire to shore up their financial stability, a higher salary and better perks were the reasons most workers said would improve their drive and dedication at their job (60 percent).

Of those looking to move jobs, salary and benefits were the single biggest issue in choosing a job (84 percent), compared to job security, which was the key attraction for only just over a quarter of prospective job hunters in Qatar.

With the cost of living on the rise in Qatar, particularly in the past year, many employees have said they are feeling the pinch.

One-fifth of people polled in Qatar said they don’t save any of their pay, while 41 percent save less than 10 percent of their annual salary.

Bayt.com - income saved - Jan 2015

Bayt.com

Survey results

However, Qatar workers seem to be better off than their colleagues around the region. Some 29 percent of Bahrain employees save nothing, while in Jordan almost half (48 percent) of the working respondents said they didn’t save a dinar.

Workers in Oman are among the region’s most thrifty, with 10 percent claiming to be able to save more than half of their salary, compared to 7 percent in Qatar.

Commenting on the figures, Suhail Masri, VP of Sales at Bayt.com, said in a statement:

“Different projects around the Middle East region are generating more opportunities, especially in the GCC. These projects are however, driving up costs, making respondents more anxious about savings and salaries.

Employers must take this into consideration going forward, both with current employees and future hires.”

Entrepreneurial spirit

The survey also noted that Qatar workers strongly prefer to be employed by a company rather than striking out on their own, perhaps reflecting the quest for financial security.

More than half (52 percent) said they would rather be an employee than an entrepreneur, which is the highest figure across the MENA region, while less than a third (30 percent) said they wanted to start their own business.

Workers in Bahrain and Saudi appear to have a more entrepreneurial spirit, polling 46 and 44 percent respectively in favor of working for themselves.

Unsurprisingly, construction (29 percent) was the sector representing most of Qatar’s survey respondents , followed by tourism and hospitality (8 percent), then oil and gas (7 percent).

However, despite the ongoing construction boom, only 15 percent cited construction as the sector they would like to work in, while oil & gas was the desired field for 14 percent of workers.

Aside from financial concerns, the majority of Qatar’s workers (83 percent) said they were positive about the coming year.

The online survey was conducted from 3 until 10 December 2014, with 8,963 respondents from the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Thoughts?