Workers around the world can expect real wage increases of 2.5% in 2016 – the highest global average in three years – as pay increases combine with historically low inflation to leave employees better off.
However, in the Middle East, where we are used to news of growth, the forecast is less impressive. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, workers can expect an average real wage increase of 2%, the lowest of these being in the UAE where salaries are expected to increase by just 0.9%, once inflation is taken into account.
There are three main factors affecting salaries in the Middle East:
A focus on costs
Plunging oil prices and economic and political uncertainty throughout the region are continuing to have an impact. There is a definite sense of slowdown in the market as businesses focus on restraining their fixed costs and improving profitability.
Around 15-20% of companies are now suggesting that they will introduce a pay freeze for 2016 and we are already seeing some corrections in key sectors including real estate, luxury retail, financial services and oil and gas services.
The impact of inflation
Organisations in the Middle East and Africa forecast salaries to rise by 5.3% and 6.5% respectively. Relatively low inflation means workers are likely to see real wage increases of 3.8% and 1.6%.
In the Middle East, Jordan and the UAE will see the slowest real wage growth (0.9%), down from 2.8% last year. Low inflation in other GCC markets means employees will enjoy greater spending power increases.
The war for executive talent continues
Executive talent is still in high demand across the GCC region with a notable shortage of key talent at the c-suite level.
Many organisations that are looking for effective ways to retain their most valuable employees are developing long-term incentive plans, which have the benefit of driving alignment with corporate goals as well as rewarding high-performing leaders.