Dubai: It’s not all doom and gloom on the salary front. According to the latest research, workers in the UAE can expect some good news next year, with wages forecast to increase by an average of 4.6 per cent.

Compensation and reward experts said there is now an increased focus on rewarding workers that matter so much to an organisation’s success, especially since the talent market is increasingly becoming global and fast moving.

Besides, compensation remains the “top-most factor” that drives employee performance, according to Laurent Leclère, senior consultant and data services lead for the Middle East at Willis Towers Watson.

“Effective use of the company’s salary budget should be high on reward professionals’ agenda. Identifying key talent, for not only technical skilled roles but also for the skills necessary for succession planning, is essential to the long-term health of any company,” said Leclère.

Willis Towers Watson has just released findings of its "General Industry Compensation Survey" which includes actual and target amounts paid for all employee salaries, allowances and bonuses.

The report suggests that pay growth could be greater for certain skilled jobs with a smaller talent pool such as digital professionals.

The significant decline in oil prices had earlier cast a cloud of uncertainty over the employment market. Industry sources had said that salaries for many employees in the country would most likely remain unchanged in 2016, as companies work towards cutting costs to weather a “difficult” period. Overall hiring activity has reportedly slowed down, while job cuts have been observed in a number of sectors, including oil and gas and banking.

“We expect salaries to remain broadly flat during the coming year, with workers more concerned about remaining employed than pushing for substantial pay increases,” Trefor Murphy, managing director at Morgan McKinley UAE, said earlier this year.

Yasmeena, an expatriate who has been in Dubai for more than five years, said she does not expect any pay adjustments next year, especially since her company’s finances aren’t in great shape.

“The last salary increase I received was a long time ago, back in 2013. I don’t expect any change next year because there is no revenue in the company where I work and the economy is struggling nowadays,” she said.

Willis Towers Watson’s General Industry Compensation Survey Report noted that a 4.6 per cent salary increase is also expected in Bahrain, adding that Lebanon will most likely enjoy the highest growth at 5.4 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (5 per cent) and Qatar (4.8 per cent).

On a global level, employees in Asian countries are predicted to benefit from some of the highest pay rises. Forecast pay adjustments in Europe, Middle East and Africa, averaging at 1.9 per cent, come second, followed by Latin America (1.8 per cent) and North America (1.6 per cent).

The report was based on a survey conducted in February and March 2016, which drew 6,500 sets of responses from companies across 100 countries worldwide.