Dubai: UAE’s companies are spending more on fuel reimbursements for their staff after prices rose by nearly 60 per cent this year, according to a report.
According to Bayzat, an employee benefits platform, the amount spent monthly by UAE companies on fuel reimbursements for their employees has increased by over a third between January through June this year. The company also found that fuel is among the most requested reimbursements for UAE employees, with the average amount per reimbursement also having increased by 18 per cent.
“In the present business environment, it’s imperative for organisations to know exactly where their operating overheads lie - having this level of granularity when it comes to employee expenditure data can help businesses adapt short-term strategies to determine efficiency improvement areas and thus navigate market conditions more effectively,” said Talal Bayaa, CEO and co-founder at Bayzat.
Along with requests for fuel reimbursements, there has also been a significant spike in requests for travel reimbursements. Data from the Bayzat platform showed that on average, the amount spent per month by UAE companies on reimbursing travel expenses grew over five-fold over the first six months of 2022.
The data also revealed that the average amount spent per travel reimbursement in June was 144 per cent higher than in January this year.
“As this reimbursement category potentially includes travel expenses such as companies’ obligatory issuance of annual tickets home for employees, it isn’t possible to confidently draw inference that business travel has been on the rise,” said Bayzat.
The report said that a return to hybrid or remote working could go a long way in reducing fuel costs.
“An obvious solution to keeping fuel and travel reimbursement costs in check would be for organisations to embrace hybrid and remote working as these have already proved highly-effective in keeping employees productive and happy,” said Bayaa. “Furthermore, any concerns that organisations have around maintaining employee performance or tracking attendance can be easily addressed with the new breed of digital HR management platforms.”
Bayzat said data could be leveraged to ensure any such moves do not impact employee satisfaction. “Apart from helping to curb costs, insight into what HR requests employees raise the most can also help business leaders craft employee-centric initiatives and programs that could greatly enhance workforce satisfaction,” said Bayaa.
“Financial compensation is just one element in keeping today’s employees happy and engaged - as organisations compete in the ‘war for talent’, factors such as flexibility, company culture, career progression and perks all combine to play a critical role in attracting and retaining top professionals,” he added.
Bayzat’s report said that e-commerce benefits were by far the most preferred. “Among the broad range of offers we’ve made available to our clients’ employees, from shopping and dining to health and well-being, the top three over the first half of the year were for Noon.com, Namshi, and Sun & Sand. This indicates that organisations could get an edge in enhancing employee experiences by providing them with eCommerce and retail benefits,” said Bayaa.
Remote working preferred
Netherlands has already made work-from-home a legal right, and several relatively young companies in the West are adopting remote working on a permanent basis. This flexibility will also make the company a more attractive employer on a potential candidate’s list, and possibly also boost employee loyalty.
According to a survey, 83 per cent professionals prefer companies that allow them to work remotely all or some of the time.
A report by job portal Bayt.com points to a shift in hiring patterns and fundamental changes MENA professionals face when looking for jobs after the COVID-19 crisis. According to the survey, 91 per cent of respondents are considering changing jobs in 2022, and 86 per cent expect remote hiring to increase in the next few years.
Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at Bayt.com, said: "Flexibility is no longer viewed as an extra benefit. In fact, flexibility is now a minimum requirement as job seekers look for their next career opportunity. The research also highlights the importance of adapting to the changing work environment as the key to make yourself the right candidate for the job."
The skills and traits companies are looking for are changing too, the survey says. Flexibility and adjusting to change (33 per cent) ranks as the most desired skill, followed by ability to work without supervision (26 per cent), self-motivation and discipline (18 per cent), familiarity with virtual work tools (18 per cent) and written and verbal communication (6 per cent).
The new job environment has also resulted in a new approach towards applying for the vacancies.
Respondents provided insights on the most important aspects of their job search journey. These include creating a strong online CV and cover letter (42 per cent), searching for jobs online (34 per cent), learning new skills including enrolling in online courses (17 per cent), considering freelancing and remote and part-time jobs (5 per cent) and attending virtual job fairs (3 per cent). For job seekers, email (46 per cent), online job sites (38 per cent), social media (9 per cent), virtual job fairs (3 per cent) and instant messaging (3 per cent) are the main methods of communicating with potential employers.