GNcareers, from Gulf News

Talent war is back in UAE as firms struggle to retain key employees

Talent war is back in UAE as firms struggle to retain key employeesImage Credit: Supplied

The tides have once again shifted in favour of job seekers.

Recruitment specialists are saying that the war for talent in the UAE is back, with qualified and experienced candidates now receiving multiple counter offers from corporates that are struggling to retain their top performers.

Businesses' ability to beat the competition and weather the current economic slowdown relies primarily on the performance of their manpower.

Given the talent squeeze in the UAE and to ensure they stay ahead of competition, many are either pirating key employees or increasing their compensation packages. As a result, some lucky candidates are dealing with several counter offers.

Those that struggle the most in the war for talent are organisations that don't have any systems in place that support the career path of their employees, or those that don't care to promote the best in their team.

''Firms without good succession planning are increasingly, in desperation, getting the cheque book out to buy back current employees under offer,'' said Andrew McNeilis, COO at Phaidon International, a parent company of eight micro niche global recruitment brands specializing across the GCC and Middle East and Africa.

''Many companies are now reaping what they have not sown in terms of counter offers and multiple offers. The reality is that since the global financial crisis, many companies were reluctant to hire junior, graduate entry and middle management talent,'' McNeilis told Gulf News.

''This is really coming back to haunt firms that do not have the internal succession planning in place. If an excellent employee cannot get promoted because there is no succession plan or talent earmarked to fill the gap – the promotion will be blocked.''

Vijay Gandhi, regional director, productized services at Hay Group, said employers in certain sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, real estate and construction are increasing remuneration to retain their best employees.

''The practice of 'pay to stay' is only happening in select sectors where demand for specific skills is high and outstrips supply,'' Gandhi told Gulf News. ''Demand is also fueled by desire to source talent with local experience who are already based here in the UAE.''

Specialist recruiter Robert Half released a report in April that highlights the war for talent in the UAE. It confirmed that UAE organisations are now finding their best employees ''being swept out from under their feet as more employees are receiving multiple counter offers.''

The recruiter questioned 100 finance leaders in the UAE and found that one third of them (33 per cent) have increased counter offers in a bid to retain their best performers. Candidates in Abu Dhabi (38 per cent) are likely to see more counter offers than their peers in Dubai (29 per cent).

The recruiter said their findings suggest that employers are concerned their top talent would leave so they are increasing remuneration in response.

''With counter offers increasing and shrinking talent pool in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is now more important than ever for businesses to act quickly in the hiring process,'' said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director of Robert Half.

Other recruiters, however, said the trend is not happening across industries. ''On a broader level, here at Hay Group, we don't think that organisations are increasing pay packages to retain individual talent,'' said Gandhi.

Did you know that UAE firms also struggle to search applicants with technical skills

Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter,