Dubai:  Many companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region are not planning to change their compensation budgets for 2017, with employee salaries expected to continue at a relatively flat rate compared to a year ago.

Recent data released by recruiting experts Hays suggested that most employers (82 per cent) expect workers’ monthly incomes to either remain unchanged or increase marginally by less than 5 per cent in the next 12 months.

Among those expecting some changes, 43 per cent see a 5 per cent wage hike, while a smaller number (12 per cent) anticipate increases of 5 per cent to 10 per cent. Pay cuts are anticipated by 2 per cent of the organisations.

From an employee perspective, fewer people are anticipating increases of 15 per cent this year, while two per cent are expecting some workers to undergo pay cuts during the same period.

“Workforce salaries are one of the single biggest costs for employers and, given the challenging economic climate of the past twelve months, it is simply not viable to offer company-wide pay rises," said Chris Greaves, Managing Director of Hays, Gulf Region..

"Instead, we have seen added focus to be on individual performance related pay, which typically amounts to a lower spend for employers than company-wide pay increases.” 

Hays' salary review found that less than half of working professionals in the GCC (48 per cent) saw  increases  in their paycheques of 5 to 10 per cent. However, nearly one in ten (9 per cent) experienced pay cuts.

Among the accountancy and finance professionals, 51 per cent reported salary adjustments, of which 14 per were reductions, an increase from just 1 per cent the previous year.

For this year, a small number of workers in the industry (3 per cent) are anticipating a decrease in pay. However, the majority of workers in the sector (61 per cent) are bullish about 2017, with 61 per cent of them saying they expect salary increases.

About half of workers in the construction and  property sector were not spared some pay adjustments either. Among those who saw changes in their salaries, a significant number (24 per cent - also one of the highest) received pay cuts. Those who were granted salary increases mostly enjoyed 5 to 10 per cent rise.

Among the engineering professionals, about four in ten (40 per cent) reported some salary changes, of which 16 per cent were pay reductions, up from 6 per cent a year earlier. The average pay hike received by engineering workers last year ranged between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

Employees who work in human resources departments (48 per cent) reported salary adjustments, of which 15 per cent were reductions. The majority (54 per cent), however, are optimistic that they will get pay hikes this year.

Information and technology (IT) professionals (34 per cent) saw their salaries changed last year. Pay reductions accounted for 12 per cent of the adjusments. This year, 61 per cent of IT workers, expect their salaries to change.

Lawyers, legal secretaries and other professionals in the industry, appeared to be the least affected by the economic slowdown, with a whopping 59 per cent of them reporting pay increases.

The average pay increase received ranged between 5 per cent and 10 per cent. A higher number (68 per cent) are looking to get further changes in their paycheques this year.

Office support professionals were among those the least happy with how their incomes fared last year. More than half (51 per cent) did see some adjustments in their take-home pay, but 18 per cent of that represented salary decreases.

Those who did get some financial rewards reported an average of 5 to 10 per cent pay hike. These professionals are also among the least optimistic this year, with nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) of them expecting no increases.

Sales and marketing professionals also went through a challenging period in 2017. Among the 49 per cent who saw their salaries changed, 20 per cent suffered pay cuts.