Happiness 2018: In Search of La Dolce Vita

While happiness is not about money, there is no doubt that it can create the environment where it flourishes. In the build up phase to the Expo however companies are investing in capacity, but not employee salaries.
Happiness 2018: In Search of La Dolce Vita
By David Westley
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As the economy builds up to Expo 2020 there is no doubt that companies, and individuals are focusing on the best returns for every dirham spent. That focus on the bottom line has had repercussions for employees, and consequently happiness.

Companies may be building up capacity to be able to meet expected demand for the Expo 2020, but to keep control over the bottom line they are holding back on salary rises.

According to our latest survey, less than 1 in 5 respondents had a pay rise of the last year (18%), down from over one in three (34%) in 2014. Even those employees who did receive a rise, have not benefited at anywhere near the levels they did so when we last conducted the survey.

Of those that did receive a pay rise, over one third received the smallest possible increase on our survey - three percent or less, compared with just over one fifth in 2014 (22%). While better than no rise, this would still be lower than inflation, currently running between 4-5%.

Almost a third (32.6%) of respondents did receive a pay rise of 4-5%,, but this was down, marginally, from 33.73% in 2014. Percentages of respondents receiving larger salary rises of 5% of more has fallen dramatically. The UAE and its companies are not currently in the mood for largesse.

At the same time respondents seem to be less willing, or perhaps able, to shrug off static salaries, with a lower percentage of respondents saying their intention to stay in the UAE in unaffected by what happens to their pay.

In 2014, 46.38% of respondents said it would make no difference to their planned stay, compared to 40.59% today.

During the period there has also been a slow erosion of residents ability to save money (51% in 2018 versus 58.6% in 2014), while at the same time a greater concern over this...

Less ability to save, and less willingness to shrug off static pay packers would in part be explained by an expat differential in salaries. Just shy of 38% of respondents in 2014 said their salary was much better than they could get in their home country, falling to 30.18% today. The biggest increase, in terms of percentage, is for those respondents who believe UAE and home country salaries would be the same.

As a point of balance it is important to stress that the percentage of people who think they would be be better off in terms of standard of life in their home country, compared to the UAE has barely changed. Living in the emirates is, no longer, merely about what we are paid.

Equally however, if residents do not feel they can participate in La Dolce Vita they see around them, they do not feel the need to stay.

Today less people say they enjoy a great work life balance in the UAE (36% versus just shy of 40% in 2014), while the numbers of respondents saying they "live to work" has increased - if marginally. Great developments like La Mer in Dubai, or the Louvre in Abu Dhabi are world class and magnificent, but to put down roots and stay residents need to feel they have the time, and money, to savour and enjoy them.


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Happiness 2018: Who are the Happiest People in the UAE
Happiness 2018: Property Matters
Happiness 2018: Expo 2020 and Happiness
Happiness 2018: Growing up in the UAE
Happiness 2018: The Changing Face of Expats
Happiness 2018: In Search of the Dolce Vita
Happiness 2018: How the UAE is Switzerland

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