Survey: UAE employee engagement rates

Brid-Aine Parnell

Friday 25 March 2016

UAE employees top global averages for engagement, but more can be done to up their satisfaction levels, such as getting the right tech and focusing on workplace aesthetics.

Workers in the UAE are significantly more engaged and satisfied than their global peers, according to a new study by office furniture firm Steelcase.

The Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace found that 20 per cent of UAE workers are highly engaged and highly satisfied, compared to a third of workers globally that feel disengaged from their jobs.

“With the UAE government encouraging investment in human capital to achieve sustainable growth in the post-oil economy, the study provides some key takeaways for leaders looking to maximise the potential of their employees,” said Andy Morris, head of sales, Middle East at Steelcase, in a press release.

The right space

Steelcase interviewed more than 12,400 participants across 17 economies for their study and found that engaged employees had more control over where and how they worked. In other words, staff that had options including a private space and collaborative areas in their offices were more likely to be engaged.

Despite the UAE’s high score overall, workers were actually quite dissatisfied with their workspace size, office furniture and noise level, and didn’t have as much access to shared spaces, such as meeting rooms and social hubs, as employees in other parts of the world. But they did have more access to mobile technology.

The right tech

Steelcase found that fixed technologies like landlines and desktop computers were still dominating offices, with companies failing to give their staff access to mobiles, laptops and tablets. However, in the UAE, although access to mobiles and laptops was similar, firms were giving out far more tablets, 22 per cent compared to the global average of 13 per cent.

“Employee mobility, both inside and outside the office, and people’s ability to fully utilise a range of spaces in the office is influenced by the organisation’s technology choices,” the report pointed out.

The right culture

Cultural context was also an important factor, with the most highly engaged employees coming from emerging economies. A large proportion of the UAE workforce are immigrants, indicating for the most part employees that have moved to the country specifically for their job, which is likely to affect engagement and satisfaction.

UAE companies are doing well with technology provision and cultural context, but there’s still more they can do to engage their workers. Traditional office spaces still abound in the Emirates and employees are looking for workspaces that give them access to both open, collaborative spaces and private areas where they can concentrate.