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Dubai: If you were looking to change jobs this year, you’re not alone. In the UAE, majority of working professionals have stated that they will actively be seeking a work change in the first half of this year.

A survey of 3,000 white-collar workers from 500 UAE-based companies, conducted by UK-based recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, found that almost three-quarters of employees were expecting a pay rise at the beginning of this year.

About 60 per cent of the survey respondents were feeling ‘very confident’ about job opportunities in their sector amid optimism that the UAE economy will grow rapidly this year. However, only less than a third of employers in the region had planned to make any changes to existing remuneration packages.

This difference between employees’ expectations versus what their current employer is willing to pay is dubbed ‘The Great Pay Divide’, and this could result in the ‘Great Resignation’ peaking this month and carrying on into March, noted the recruitment consultancy, which also has operations in Dubai.

‘The Great Resignation’ is a trend seen globally, surveys show

The ‘Great Resignation’, also known as the ‘Extraordinary Exodus’, is a global economic trend flagged by multiple key economists in which employees voluntarily resign from their jobs ‘en masse’, and hunt for new jobs.

It’s a trend spotted in several key economies since early 2021. About 25 per cent of employees will seek new jobs in 2022, while 10 per cent have already secured a new position, a December poll conducted across different regions worldwide showed.

Harvard economist Jason Furman in June 2021 evaluated how that the number of people leaving their jobs currently was in line with expectations given the number of job openings, suggesting that the sheer volume of opportunities could be driving resignations.

So in other words, the ‘Great Resignation’ is essentially a research trend that predicts a large number of people leaving their jobs after any lingering pandemic-induced job uncertainty more or less flames out this year, and a record number of new job openings pop up in different industries.

How many will leave jobs for better offers this year?
A recent survey conducted by tech giant Microsoft found that globally more than 40 per cent of workers were likely to consider leaving their current employer this year. A similar study by UK-based insurer Prudential found that 48 per cent of workers were rethinking what type of job they want.

US-based financial service provider Bankrate conducted a similar global study in late July 2021 which found that 55 per cent who are employed or looking for a job said they were likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months.

In particular, 77 per cent of centennials (those born in late 90s) and 63 per cent of millennials were planning to job hunt, and 72 per cent of those who earn less than $30,000 (Dh110,190) per year were planning to seek new employment this year, the statistic showed.

Older workers and those earning more than $80,000 (Dh293,840) per year were less likely to say they would be job searching.
Employees re-evaluate careers ahead of the ‘Great Resignation’.

Employees re-evaluate careers

The World Economic Forum (WEF) also revealed how managers are now navigating the ripple effects from the pandemic, as employees re-evaluate their careers and leave their jobs in record numbers.

Companies currently have a record number of open positions worldwide, and to explore what has been driving this recent shift, a recent in depth analysis of more than 9 million employee records at 4,000 global companies revealed two trends:

  1. Resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees
  2. Resignation rates are highest in the technology and healthcare industries

Job change rates to be highest among mid-career employees

“At the onset of the pandemic, the world’s job market was full of uncertainty and mass layoffs: millions of people lost their jobs, and those lucky enough to remain employed stayed put in their roles for survival. However, as we now turn towards recovery, workers in privileged positions who don’t live salary-to-salary every month are now finally moving on,” the WEF recently noted.

The pandemic accelerated the trend toward automation as companies globally embraced digital waiters, concierges and other technologies. In 2020, the WEF surveyed about 300 global companies and found that 43 per cent of businesses expect to reduce their workforces with new technology.

What sectors will hire?

“What’s more, many existing employees have had to sit back in the past 18 months and watch new starter salaries rise at a faster rate than their own pay – with the salary for new hires increasing by 6 per cent to 8 per cent, and as high as 15 per cent to 20 per cent for industries such as technology or healthcare,” recruiter Robert Walters further noted in their report.

In spite of the rise in flexible and hybrid working, salary increases and bonuses remain the main motivators for retaining employees within a business, the salary survey showed, with two-thirds of professionals having stated that they would leave their job if they are not offered a pay rise in 2022.

“Working professionals with 5-plus years’ experience, in some sectors such as legal and finance, are achieving 20 per cent to 30 per cent pay increases when moving roles,” said Jason Grundy, managing director of Robert Walters, Middle East and Africa.

“In technology, the pay rises are even higher, sometimes up to 50 per cent for those with software development or cyber security experience.”

How do you prepare for a job change?

“Professionals looking to increase their earnings most likely would need to seek new opportunities, however, new starters should still expect conservative salary increases when moving roles,” Grundy added.

Matter experts also reveal how the ‘Great Resignation’ is encouraging people to take the time to think about what they are really passionate about and what they want in both a job and employer. Getting additional training can help you gain valuable skills for your next career.

4 questions to ask yourself before you move careers
Before taking on a new career recruiters recommend asking yourself these questions:

• How has the pandemic experience changed your career or life goals?
• What are your career prospects for 2021-2022?
• How would a job with a new company add value to your career?
• What opportunities might you uncover with your current company through networking and championing your good work and skills?
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If you have decided to quit, here are a couple of factors to follow before you do so.

If you have decided to quit, here are a couple of factors to follow before you do so:

#1: Plan your transition period – Recruiters stress the importance of having a plan for your time post-job if you’re sure you’re ready to quit. Taking on a part-time or temporary role could help you try a new career on for size.

A temporary or temp-to-hire roles allow you to try out a position and can act as a bridge to a permanent job if you’re switching roles or industries, rather than committing to a full-time permanent job immediately.

#2: Make sure your money will last – Be conservative in estimating how long it may take you to find your next opportunity, recruiters add.

Although it typically takes five months to find a job, hiring consultants add that conservatively, you need six months of money for living expenses. If you’re striking out on your own, experts add to plan for 12 months of expenses.

Essential expenses that are often thought about are rent, groceries and utilities, but depending on your household, they could include child care, fuel, pet food or school supplies.

Verdict: Is the ‘Great Resignation’ just a great exaggeration?

The ‘Great Resignation’ could be a good time for a career change. If you’ve been toying with the idea of trying out a new career, now may be the time to do it, experts opine.

Resignation rates globally have been trending upward since hitting a low in August and September of 2009. They plummeted to a level not seen since June 2013, in April 2020.

Meanwhile, employers are facing many challenges, including a skills gap that has them struggling to fill positions.

That is good news for job seekers — 70 per cent of employers worldwide are willing to hire and train someone with transferable skills, according to global employment website Monster’s Future of Work Report, which surveyed 3,000 recruiters and talent acquisition leaders around the globe from August 23 to September 10, 2021.

But as to whether or not the seriousness of this global labour shift is justified, the numbers we’re relying on to paint the story of a pandemic-induced mass resignation aren’t entirely straightforward.

The governments globally have only tracked resignations in the past two decades. Additionally, quitting was already at record highs in 2019, before COVID-19.

Now, as the global economy rebounds, it’s not perfectly clear whether pandemic-related changes are the primary driver of continuing resignations, or if higher quit rates are more linked to an increasingly stablising economy.

A historical parallel is the 2009 Great Recession – once the economy strengthened throughout the next decade, resignation rates went up, too. Plus, although workers across a variety of sectors are leaving their jobs, the resignations aren’t necessarily evenly spread.

But in general, there’s also not a lot of solid data that confirms which specific groups might be quitting. In other words, the causes of the Great Resignation are sort of multi-faceted, and manifest themselves in different ways. So it’s not that simple, and signs point to it only getting more complex.