UAE companies introduce bonuses as "key tool" to retain talent

asmaa - | Arab News

Recruitment experts in the UAE are observing an increasing trend of companies offering bonuses to attract and retain talent. This strategy, previously limited to executive roles, is now extending to mid-level and junior positions.

Bonuses in UAE Recruitment

Aparna Navin from Holcim Group noted that employers in the UAE and the region are increasingly utilizing bonuses to attract talent, with some statistics indicating up to a 35 percent increase this year compared to 2022.

The growing emphasis on bonuses is evident as early as the second meeting in the recruitment process. Potential employees often bring up the topic to understand how bonuses are calculated and achieved. Tiago Costa, CEO of Parisima Talent, noted, "We find that bonuses and how they are achieved are one of the most frequently mentioned benefits during the recruitment process." Discussions typically focus on the criteria for receiving bonuses, whether they are team-based, the impact of tenure on the bonus amount, and the payout schedule.

This trend is fueled by companies' efforts to retain their top talent. Costa explained, "Companies aim to keep their best employees, and bonuses along with long-term incentives—like clear career development pathways into senior roles and family support such as education allowances—are central to recruitment-related discussions about benefits.

A Shift in Bonus Structures

Historically, bonuses were primarily reserved for C-suite executives, but this is changing. Navin pointed out, "Since 2021, there has been a notable expansion in their application to mid-level and junior-level positions." This shift reflects a broader recognition of the need to reward and retain talent across all levels of an organization.

Despite the growing trend, a recent poll indicated that the majority of private sector employees in the UAE have not received a bonus recently and do not expect to this year. Out of 6,000 respondents in a WhatsApp poll, 5,100 said they haven't received a bonus this year, compared to 900 who did. This discrepancy suggests that while bonuses are becoming more common, they are not yet universal.

Recruitment experts like Sukhada Kulkarni from Elista Consultancy Services (DMCC) highlight how bonuses make job offers more attractive. "Candidates frequently highlight the extra benefits, notably bonuses, they presently enjoy at their jobs and use these as a benchmark when considering new job opportunities," she said. Discussions often delve into the structure and frequency of bonus payouts, eligibility criteria, and performance metrics linked to bonuses.

Bonuses vary significantly across different companies and roles. In the recruitment industry, for example, monthly or quarterly commissions are common, whereas other sectors may offer year-end bonuses based on company performance or signing bonuses for new hires. Costa noted, "Recruitment companies often provide commissions based on monthly or quarterly sales achievements. We also see many roles with end-of-year bonuses tied to company earnings, and some positions with more complex requirements include signing bonuses or a 6-month in-role bonus."

The increasing use of bonuses in the UAE reflects a broader trend towards recognizing and rewarding employee contributions more effectively. By incorporating performance-based bonuses and other incentives into compensation packages, organizations aim to foster a culture of performance and loyalty, ultimately helping to retain skilled individuals in a competitive job market.

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