Flexible Work, Jobs Expected to Increase in the GCC in 2021

Hays PLC’s annual employment report found that most employers in the GCC region either maintained the numbers in their workforce or even increased their employment rates in 2020.
Carolyne Njeri

Carolyne Njeri

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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have always been a mecca for job seekers all over the globe with about 35 million expatriate workers living in the region. However, with the onset of Covid-19 in late 2019 and the consequent disruption of the global market due to travel bans and other Coronavirus restrictions, the world’s economy took an unprecedented hit in 2020. Employment was one of the most affected sectors of the economy with millions losing their jobs, a scenario that was expected to continue way into 2021. But, a recent report by Hays PLC involving over 3,500 employers and employees, pointed to the contrary, showing that most employers in the GCC region either maintained the numbers in their workforce or even increased their employment rates in 2020 despite the effects of the pandemic.

Unlike other blocs around the globe, the gulf region has been able to control the transmission and mortality rates of Covid 19, but it has faced its fair share of economic hardships. It therefore comes as a surprise that the Hays report shows that 49% of employers in GCC countries either increased their employee numbers or kept it the same. Moreover, the survey showed that 64% of companies seek to enlarge their workforce in 2021. It does not end there; those already with jobs are expected to have a fruitful 2021 since about half of the employees are set to have a salary bump during the year. 

The Managing Director of Hays Gulf Region, Chris Greaves, pointed out that a good number of the companies that took part in the survey had completely rebounded from the effects of the pandemic or were in the process of doing so, possibly due to the easement of the Coronavirus restrictions towards the end of 2020. This contributed to a business boom in all sectors in the region, whose momentum is predicted to increase into 2021. As a result, salaries are also expected to increase.

Individuals who reaped the most benefit from the salary increases were mainly from the technology sector while people carrying out administrative roles and office support experienced a drop in their demand and remunerations due to the closure of most offices and adoption of work from home policies by most companies. According to the report, 18% of the employees who experienced a drop in their wages were mainly from the aviation, hospitality, tourism, engineering, and property industries. However, a vast majority, especially from technology, finance and pharma industries enjoyed a rise in earnings.

Findings from Hays’ report also showed conflicting perceptions between employers and employees on the effectiveness of remote work, with 78% of employees in fact wanting greater flexibility to their working patterns in 2021 and 41% of employers, who did not previously offer remote working, plan on doing so in 2021.

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