x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Bonus culture returns to UAE reaching up to 25% of pay

A salary survey reveals remuneration starting to pick-up for the first time in two years.

Investment banks and private equity houses are paying bonuses as high as 25 per cent of salaries to top performers.

The move comes as remuneration starts to pick-up for the first time in two years, a salary survey reveals.

UAE staff within the financial services, the legal profession, accounting, technology and human resources were best placed to expect salary increases, said the 2011 Salary Guide by the recruitment company Robert Half International.

"We are in economic recovery mode and salary rises are anticipated in key skills areas where demand is returning," said James Sayer, the associate director, Middle East, at Robert Half International.

For many employees, the prospect of bonuses and salary increases has remained a distant hope for the past two years since the onset of the global financial crisis.

Sluggish sales and declining business activity meant many businesses were forced to either reduce staff head-counts or freeze salaries.

Investment banks and private equity houses were hard hit as the number of mergers and acquisitions and other deals dried up.

At the same time, banks and other financial institutions in the US and Europe faced a backlash of opposition to the culture of awarding bonuses at a time when some lenders were receiving taxpayer bailouts from the government.

An improvement in the UAE economy this year has proved a catalyst for greater business activity and stronger performance within the banking sector.

"Those organisations which have weathered the storm of the financial crisis better than others are more likely to pay bonuses," said Mr Sayer. "Individuals adding value to the bottom line are being rewarded.

"A year ago bonuses were not being awarded as the financial sector was going through a tough time," he said.

But Mr Sayer said greater remuneration may not always prove sufficient in helping to retain staff.

"People frustrated with logjams further up the hierarchy rarely resolve that problem by being persuaded to stay in return for a more lucrative benefits package," he said.

"They may like earning the money but if their line manager - and their line manager's manager - continue not to budge, it won't be long before wanderlust kicks in again."

A total of 151 people were interviewed for the UAE survey, working as finance and accounting managers, human resources managers and other executive managers.