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The 2015 MENA Salary Guide: The Compensation, The Benefits, And The Rates Of Satisfaction Competitive salary and benefits packages are among the most important factors for employee retention in the MENA region.

By Suhail Al-Masri

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Does your staff grumble that they feel underpaid or that they believe that their work is worth more money than they are making? They're not alone. For 26.6% of respondents in the Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace poll, February 2013, competitive salary and benefits packages were the most important factors for employee retention in the MENA region.

Moreover, 45.2% of respondents in the same poll left their last job because they weren't paid enough. Bad pay and benefits is selected in yet another poll by, the Workplace Dynamics in the MENA poll, June 2013, by 20% of MENA professionals as the top reason why they would leave their job.

In order to have a closer look at the current situation of working professionals in the MENA region, conducted its annual MENA Salary Survey 2014. The survey results –based on data collected online from more than 9,500 professionals from the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia– give insights into the salary levels, compensation packages, bonuses, and costs of living in the region. The survey also measures overall employee job satisfaction.

Current Salary Levels, Satisfaction and Expectations

Across the MENA region, 53% of professionals surveyed in the MENA Salary Survey 2014 indicate that they receive a basic salary plus benefits, such as housing allowance, transport, children's education and more. For over a third of respondents (34%) who receive a basic salary along with other benefits, the basic salary consists of 51-75% of their monthly salary, and 14% state that they also receive a commission on top of their basic salary and benefits. The preferred pay structure in the MENA is a 100% fixed-pay structure (favored by 53% of respondents).

A large proportion of MENA professionals are not satisfied with their income, with 45% claiming to be dissatisfied with their pay, compared to just 3% who are highly satisfied with what they receive. 28% believe that men and women receive equal pay for doing the same work. The majority (67%) of professionals surveyed believe that the salary they receive is less than what other companies in their industry pay. Over a quarter of MENA respondents (28%) do not expect to receive a raise in 2014, though 37% anticipate receiving a pay rise of up to 15%.

Across MENA, the most common benefits received by employees are personal medical insurance, bonuses and transportation allowance. For 35% of MENA professionals, foregoing part of their salary to work more flexible hours is something they would consider. According to 62% of respondents, their company does not pay for any overtime they do. Companies that do pay for extra office hours, for the most part, pay a normal hourly rate (43%), though 41% pay time and a half. Only 22% of companies in the MENA region pay employees for time spent doing civil service.

Drivers of Loyalty At Work

38% of respondents in the MENA state that loyalty to their company is not based on the salary they receive. Rather, they consider that their loyalty is based on their line manager (42%), opportunities for long-term career advancement (40%), senior management (35%), and their colleagues (34%).

End of Service Benefits

Less than half (48%) of MENA respondents receive an end-of-service gratuity, while 14% receive a pension upon retirement. 31%, however, receive neither, though 51% of those who do not currently receive a pension state that they are interested in a pension plan to which they would contribute a percentage of their basic salary, in addition to the company's contribution.

Insurance Plans

The majority of MENA professional (68%) have access to medical insurance for themselves through their company, and 36% have access to insurance for their dependents, too. For the most part, companies are responsible for payment on medical insurance claims– both for personal and dependents. Although, a further two fifths of respondents share responsibility of medical insurance payments with their employer. Insurance plans are active from the first day of hire according to 41% of respondents.

Salaries and The Rising Cost of Living

83% of respondents in the MENA predicted an increase in the cost of living in 2014. Among other factors affected by the rising cost of living in the region, this rise has limited the ability to save. In matter of fact, 36% of MENA professionals claim to save nothing from their monthly salary. Despite this, 44% of respondents believe that they are better off, in terms of quality of life, compared to other people of a similar generation in their country of residence.

61% of MENA professionals believe that salaries in their country are on the rise. This is considered to be due to inflation and the rising cost of living (62%), as well as economic and opportunity growth (34%) and pay rises in the public sector (17%). Factors observed by MENA professionals that are inhibiting salary increases include poor economy (43%), employer-friendly laws (35%), and poor corporate performance or decreased profitability (21%). Overall, 29% of respondents believe there is a skills shortage in the region.

Top Expenses

Dining out is considered to be the top monthly expense by 31%, followed by travel (29%) and entertainment (18%). Holidays taken by MENA respondents in the last 12 months have mostly involved travel to local destinations (33%). 36% of respondents have not been on holiday in the past 12 months.

Getting the Salary Equation Right

Keeping your employees once you have them is a thorny problem. Although it's not only about the money, it does play a fundamental role when comparing offers from potential employers. Our studies have shown, time and time again, that top talents are invariably first and foremost seeking some degree of medium to long-term job security. These professionals look for companies that provide a healthy degree of career longevity and sustainability for their staff. Fair compensation and benefits fall under this bracket including a compelling salary, performance-based bonuses, personal (and family) health insurance, retirement schemes, and children's education support.

Suhail Al-Masri

VP of Sales,

Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Employer Solutions at Al-Masri has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at goes in line with the company's mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.

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