We conducted our Compensation and Benefits survey this year to understand the trends for the HR industry, keeping in mind that now, our respondents and their organisations, just as you, have been living with the virus for a full year and are approaching a better understanding of what the ‘new normal’ may look like.

In terms of compensation and benefits, caution is the watchword: salary increases are lower or non-existent, and bonuses are rarer. Interestingly, while one might assume the pandemic would increase concerns around economic uncertainty, only 34% of our respondents identified fluctuating economic conditions as their main challenge in managing remuneration over the next three years  – down from more than 45% of respondents in 2019.

Instead, respondents showed a greater focus on motivation, engagement, and flexible rewards than in the past.

“The pandemic is literally one of the best things to happen to the HR world because it revolutionised the way we do business. Our whole lives have evolved yet we still used to work with the nine to five, Henry Ford Industrial Revolution way of doing things and then suddenly,  when the pandemic happened, we were all forced to change that,”  Sara Boueri, Human Resources Director at Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), quoted in Arabian Business.

One clear change is organisations’ willingness to embrace remote working, with 60% of respondents reporting that flexible working is standard in their organisations. However, it is clear that this is not being equally applied to all staff, with 47.8% saying less than 20% of employees are entitled to flexible working, and only 22.4% saying more than 60% of staff could work flexibly. But a significant number of organisations are taking flexible work seriously, with 42% of respondents saying it will continue after the pandemic – and only 25% ruling it out.

Workers have been stretched to the limit during the pandemic, often putting in longer hours, taking on additional responsibilities, acquiring new skills and using recent months to reassess their career priorities. Professionals are much savvier about the market value of their skills and current salary trends than before.  Employers should research compensation trends regularly, be prepared to move quickly and negotiate effectively in order to retain key employees or hire promising talent,” Gareth El Mettouri, associate director, Robert Half Middle East, quoted in Arabian Business.

Want more insights about the latest C&B trends in 2021? Compensation & Benefits Annual Trends Report will be released at the Virtual Module 1 of the Compensation and Benefits Forum on Wednesday 30th June alongside with the Deep Dive analysis of the findings and how it will impact the rewards landscape in the region. You can still register for the Virtual Module 1 here: https://informaconnect.com/total-rewards-middle-east/booking-options/