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The Future Of Work: Why Employee Benefits Are Vital To A Company's Success Employees today aren't just looking for a paycheck; they're seeking a career path that offers growth, flexibility, and a sense of purpose.

By Mufazzal Kajiji

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As we approach a new era in the workplace, the shifting dynamics of employment present an urgent call to action for organizations in the UAE and KSA. Employers must update the traditional playbook on talent retention to accommodate a more knowledgeable, adaptable, and discerning employee base than ever. This idea isn't just for HR departments to ponder; it's a critical issue requiring a top-down strategic overhaul.

Employees today aren't just looking for a paycheck; they're seeking a career path that offers growth, flexibility, and a sense of purpose. The days of one-size-fits-all benefits packages are gone. In their place, a new paradigm is emerging that prioritizes employee well-being, professional development, and work-life balance. This shift reflects deeper societal changes, with implications far beyond the confines of office walls.

This trend is also gaining momentum in the UAE and KSA. In fact, 25% of employees in the UAE and KSA have switched jobs between 2023 and 2024, attracted by improved pay, better employee perks, and chances for career advancement. The workforce in these regions is not just chasing better financial compensation; they're also vocal about their desire for well-defined career progression, hybrid work arrangements, and flexible working hours.

This trend is gaining traction, with most employees expressing a strong desire to seek new job prospects within the next 12 to 18 months. In KSA, 78% of workers are contemplating job changes, with a similar sentiment shared by 74% of their counterparts in the UAE. This is a testament to employees' changing values, who now view their jobs as integral components of their lives, not just means to an end.

Related: The Future Of Work Is Parent-Friendly (And Here's How Your UAE-Based Organization Can Be Certified As One)

But despite the clear signals from the workforce, many employers remain entrenched in their ways, clinging to outdated models of employee engagement that are ill-suited to the demands of the modern workplace. Zurich International Life's recent Future of Work study highlighted that about 40% of employers struggle with talent retention. This disconnect is more than just an HR puzzle; it's a strategic vulnerability that could undermine the competitive advantage of businesses that fail to adapt, leading to a talent drain and diminished performance. Workplace flexibility plays a major role in attracting and retaining talent from both an employer and employee perspective.

Creating a stable and inclusive work culture, addressing financial security, and offering comprehensive employee benefits are no longer optional extras; they're essential components of a successful talent retention strategy. Employees need more than what's now considered the bare minimum. Our recent survey showed that 84% of employees would willingly switch jobs for the same pay if they got better employee benefits. Employers in the UAE and KSA who have recognized this shift are already taking steps to foster a positive workplace culture, considering it a critical factor in retaining talent.

It's time for a broader conversation about being an employer in the 21st century. We must challenge the conventional wisdom that views employees as mere cogs in the corporate machine and embrace a more holistic approach to talent management. By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of our workforce and foster innovation, productivity, and loyalty. And as we navigate these changing tides, employers must lead the charge, crafting work environments that attract and retain the best talent. This daunting task is also an opportunity to redefine what it means to be an employer of choice in today's job market.

The evolving job market is thus a wake-up call for employers everywhere. It's time to rethink talent retention, moving beyond traditional incentives, and towards a more nuanced understanding of what motivates today's workforce. By doing so, we can build organizations that are not just places of work, but communities that offer growth, stability, and a sense of belonging. This approach isn't just good business; it's a moral imperative for the future of work.

Related: Making Change Happen: The Talent That Will Bring Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 Into Focus

Mufazzal Kajiji

Chief Executive Officer, Zurich International Life

Mufazzal Kajiji is Chief Executive Officer of Zurich International Life (Zurich), part of strategy in the Middle East region, aimed at diversifying the existing business verticals and delivering an exceptional customer experience. A banking and finance expert with over 25 years of experience, Mufazzal has held several leadership positions in wealth management and retail banking.

Prior to joining Zurich in June 2022, Mufazzal was Head of Mashreq Gold, Mashreq Bank’s wealth management practice. Before that, he was Head of Retail Banking at Noor Bank where he was in charge of the bank’s retail banking franchise, including the wealth management business, branch network, retail products and segments as well as the marketing function. Mufazzal also previously served as Executive Vice President and Global Head of Wealth Management and Affluent Banking at First Gulf Bank and held other leadership positions with multinationals such as Citibank, Standard Chartered and Alliance Capital (Bernstein).

He holds an MBA from the University of Mumbai, India, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Certification, a Financial Risk Manager Certification from the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Certificate designation. With a keen interest in the environment and climate change impact, he is currently pursuing his certification in climate risk.


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