x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE workers should wait to ask for pay rise

Many workers in the region are unhappy with their salaries, but there are certain tips to keep in mind before asking for a raise.

Jeremy Williams, the founder of Handshaikh, notes ample preparation for a negotiation is the key to getting a salary increase.
Jeremy Williams, the founder of Handshaikh, notes ample preparation for a negotiation is the key to getting a salary increase.

Now that business is picking up for many companies across the Emirates, is it a good time to talk to the boss about finally getting that raise?

More workers may be considering the question as many in the Middle East feel salaries have not kept pace with the rising cost of living.

Only 3 per cent of professionals in the UAE said they were "highly satisfied" with their salary, while 47 per cent indicated a low level of satisfaction, research from the job-search site Bayt.com and the polling company YouGovSiraj shows.

The issue is compounded for some, for whom salaries have actually fallen recently.

Middle managers in the UAE who receive a proportion of their earnings in bonuses and profit share had remuneration fall 9 per cent between 2008 and last year, according to data released last month by Towers Watson, a New York human resources consultancy.

"Bonuses and profit share are an important part of the overall reward package," says Anne Severeyns, the head of data services operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Towers Watson.

"Variable pay such as this, vitally, offers employers the ability to manage cost and performance, as well as rewarding and retaining key talent."

In spite of the recent upturn in the region's economy, with growth expected to top 3 per cent this year, some experts suggest waiting a little longer to ask for more money from an employer.

"It may be just too soon at this moment," says Jeremy Williams, the founder of Handshaikh, a UK consultancy that works with western businesses in the Gulf.

"I think we want to see the flower bloom a bit stronger before we start demanding extra salaries."

But Mr Williams notes it helps to be prepared for negotiation and there is much information employees can gather in their favour to use when the time is right.

For starters, visit websites that may provide sample salaries for different positions, or other perks workers may receive. Bayt.com features a section that highlights average earnings for popular jobs such as accountancy, project engineering and sales management in the UAE.

PayScale.com provides the average number of holidays residents in the Emirates earn based on how many years of experience they have in the workforce.

Be sure to provide concrete reasons for a pay rise request, experts say. It helps to have quantifiable facts, such as how directing a certain marketing campaign led to a 15 per cent increase in sales.

But what is most important in this region, particularly if a manager is an Arab, is to make the request face to face.

"I doubt any request for a raise will be successful unless one deals at a personal level," says Mr Williams. "It's best to do things in a low-key meeting after you've personally brought some success to the company."