Attracting high performing employees remains difficult in the Middle East

Almost four in ten Middle East employees indicate they are likely to leave employer within next two years, according to Willis Towers Watson surveys

Dubai, UAE  – 06 November, 2016 — Middle East employers continue to experience difficulty in  attracting and retaining employees, with three quarters of employers having trouble attracting top performing employees, according to two major surveys conducted by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. The research also reveals that employees in the Middle East are less inclined to stay with their employer, with almost four in 10 employees stating they are likely to leave their employer within the next two years (38%), adding more pressure on employers’ ability to keep top talent.

The Willis Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, a study of more than 2,000 companies globally, including 50 from the Middle East, shows that the labor market activity in the Middle East is increasing. Almost half of Middle East employers (40%) said hiring activity has increased over the past 12 months, while 27% said it decreased.

According to the survey, this labor market activity is translating into a myriad of attraction and retention challenges. For example, three quarters of employers in the Middle East have trouble attracting top performing employees (76%) and high-potential employees (71%). Around half of the respondents reported challenges in retaining high-potential employees (49%), and top performers (49%).

“Given today’s fast changing workplace and new demands in skills, the need for employers to successfully attract and retain the best employees has never been greater,” said Elie Georgiou-Botaris, Middle East Practice Leader, Talent Management & Organizational Alignment, Willis Towers Watson. “This changing environment would cater to the employees’ need for opportunities to learn new skills, but it will not meet their need for job security” added Elie Georgiou-Botaris.

For the Willis Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, a survey of 31,000 employees worldwide, including 748 from the Middle East, revealed that job security is still the third-most frequently cited reason employees join a company in the Middle East; just before Opportunities to learn new skills.

Career advancement is key to attracting and retaining employees

The Global Workforce Study also identified career advancement opportunities as key to attracting and retaining employees.  Opportunities to advance careers is the second key reason for employees to join a company (after base pay). However, more than half of employees (55%) said they would need to leave their organization to progress in their careers. “This may be attributed to the fact that employers in the Middle East are not effective in providing their employees with career advancement opportunities,” said Elie Georgiou-Botaris. The employers, however, have a different perspective; 56% believe they are effective at providing career advancement opportunities, and 53% say that compared with last year, career advancement opportunities are improving.

“Given the high percentage of employees who say they need to leave their current employer to advance their career, there is a clear misalignment between employers and employees on this question”, said Marjola Rintjema, Lead Consultant Talent & Change Management at Willis Towers Watson Middle East.

The Global Workforce Study also found there is room for improvement in employee engagement in the Middle East. Only one third (32%) of Middle East employees were highly engaged. “In addition to attracting and retaining talented employees, employers need to focus on engaging employees in order to achieve better business results. We know from our research that Leadership plays a critical role in driving engagement among their employees,” said Marjola Rintjema. “When we see that only 34% of employees in the Middle East believe that senior leadership has sincere interest in their employees’ well-being (versus 44% globally), it’s clear that Leaders need to work on creating trust to build an engaged workforce.”

About the surveys


The Willis Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey was conducted from April to June 2016, with participants representing a wide range of industries and geographic regions. It includes responses from 2,004 companies worldwide, including 50 companies from the Middle East.

The Willis Towers Watson Global Workforce Study covers more than 31,000 employees selected from research panels that represent the populations of full-time employees working in large and midsize organiz

ations across a range of industries in 29 markets around the world. It was fielded online during April and May 2016. The Middle East sample includes 748 employees and has a margin of error of ±1%.

About Willis Towers Watson

willis-towers-watson_elie-botaris_lr
Elie Botaris
willis-towers-watson_marjola-rintjema
Marjola Rintjema

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the  dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at willistowerswatson.com.