Dubai: The UAE job market may have cooled off due to the economic downturn, but employers still struggle to retain top talent, or what others would call "star employees."

Industry experts warn that the cost of turnover can put a dent in the company budget, so employers would do well to review their employee offering, both in terms of salary and career growth opportunities. "It is five times more expensive to rehire someone and get them performing than to keep them in the team, if they are performing well," said Hazel Jackson of biz-group.

"Retaining top talent is critical and many organisations in the UAE still have employees that are poor performers. A great question employers should ask themselves is ‘who would you enthusiastically rehire?' Whoever you say yes to, make sure you retain them," she advised.

Christo Daniels of iQselection Dubai said hiring expatriates entails considerable visa costs at both ends of the process, for outgoing and incumbent staff. Also, it can be costly for an organisation if a key position remains vacant for a period of time, as it can dig deep into a company's ability to generate income.

"Quality, not quantity of available talent has been a pressing issue in the UAE since before the downturn and so organisations are keen to hold onto their key talent. As the job market starts to show signs of recovery, employers can no longer take a complacent approach to recruitment," Daniels said.

"As hiring increases and the ability to attract high-calibre talent becomes more competitive, companies will need to look at their employee offering both in terms of remuneration and career development opportunities."

Daniels predicted that "highly skilled and high-salaried markets" will face a shortage of candidates in a short space of time. "Demand for specialist skill-sets required to drive organisational change, growth and development within businesses will rise and the amount of talent available in the local market may not be enough to meet this increase in demand," he added.