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Aon Hewitt Announces Best Employers Middle East 2016 Winners
Seven out of 10 university students intend to stay in the UAE after graduation, according to the latest Qudurat Wave III report 
Outlook for GCC salaries optimistic for 2017
Companies in UAE & KSA revise spending on employee allowances and benefits
Aon Hewitt Launches Best Employers Middle East 2016

Aon Hewitt Announces Best Employers Middle East 2016 Winners

DUBAI, UAE, 17 October 2016 -  Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), announced the winners of the Best Employers Middle East awards 2016. Winners were selected based on achieving high levels of employee engagement, a culture of high performance, effective leadership and a compelling employer brand and included: DHL Express, Marriott International, McDonald’s UAE and Procter & Gamble Near East. 

Achieving the award across multiple geographies, Marriott International was recognized as a Global Best Employer and DHL Express was awarded the accolade of Middle East Best Employer. New entrant McDonald’s took home a Best Employer UAE award while Procter & Gamble was recognized as Best Employer for the Near East – Egypt region.

Participating organizations were benchmarked against Aon Hewitt’s regional database consisting of more than 375 organizations and 130,000 employees, making Best Employers Middle East the most comprehensive study of its kind and placing Aon Hewitt at the forefront of employer benchmarking.

“The winning organizations have created a culture of engagement in which it is possible to identify a clear correlation between employee engagement levels and actual business performance including customer satisfaction, sales, operating margins and total shareholder returns. They have successfully created a workplace experience that does not just revolve around pay, but rather around a robust and comprehensive employee value proposition” said Elias Dib, Partner and Study Director from Aon Hewitt Middle East.

Key insights from this year’s study reveal that the average employee engagement for a Best Employer Middle East organization is 85%, significantly higher than the market average of 61%. A further 89% of employees from Best Employers believe their organization shows clear accountability for strategic goals, making employees aware of how they contribute to business success and recognizing employees for their performance compared to the market average of 56%. A further 86% of those surveyed from Best Employer organizations believe that their leadership has a clear vision of the future, values the people and strives for business excellence compared to the market average of 65%.

“At Aon Hewitt, we know that becoming a Best Employer is a journey in an organization's development and they do not get there overnight; but it is a journey that is worth the effort. Countless organizations are now investing in analytic tools to map talent indicators, and topics of employee engagement and organizational culture seem to weigh heavy on the minds of business leaders in the boardrooms. Best Employers in the Middle East fill in more job openings internally (49%) when compared to the rest of the market (37%). In addition, employees at Best Employer organizations (88%) are definitely motivated to contribute more than is normally required to do their job in comparison to the market average (60%).” 

“We are seeing Middle East organizations increasingly identifying the Best Employer recognition award as a key indicator to business success and we take the research findings to offer a comprehensive roadmap for participants looking to improve their performance. Testament to how seriously regional organizations are taking such studies is the fact that we have already started receiving entries for Best Employers Middle East 2017,” Ray Everett, CEO Aon Hewitt Middle East.
Karim Yehia Kamel, Vice President of P&G Near East, said: We are honored to be recognized as one of the Best Employers in the Middle East for the fifth consecutive time. We believe that our people are our main competitive asset and have built robust systems to invest and continue developing P&G leaders across the globe. We stay true to our principle that it is the power of one and value for all that has distinguished us as a global leader in the industry and will drive to continue setting the benchmark in creating a collaborative and inclusive work environment to bring out the best in our team.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, first time winners McDonald’s UAE said that receiving such a prestigious award validates their leadership position as one of the best employers in the Middle East. “Through our ongoing commitment to our people, we look forward to continue forging great relationships and maintaining the trust and loyalty of our employees,” Walid Fakih, General Manager at McDonald’s UAE. 

Henry Fares, Human Resources Vice President of repeat winners DHL Express Middle East added that “it is always great when hard work and dedication is recognized. Our values are built on a culture that promotes engaging our people, and creating a healthy environment that encourages recognition and transparency. We put our employees at the heart of everything we do because they are the centre of our business, it is our culture to support our people, and if that happens to result in an award, we are more than grateful for that. We are proud of our workforce, and of all the efforts they put into making DHL an employer of choice, and truly one that is considered a Best Employer.” 

The winning organizations were presented with the prestigious Best Employer title during a high profile networking event held at The Oberoi Dubai on October 17. The event was attended by CEOs and HR leaders who gathered to celebrate the winners’ success. The occasion also provided a valuable platform to highlight the key attributes exemplified by the region’s Best Employers in helping other organizations identify areas in which they can develop their own people practices for the future.

Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers study is based on a wealth of data from an independent employee opinion survey and a detailed audit of people practices. The complete view of the organization’s employees, its leaders and HR practices ensured a contextual, unbiased and credible outcome of the study in line with Aon Hewitt’s global standards. 

Launched globally 15 years ago, Aon Hewitt’s Best Employer Award has become an international benchmark for businesses, reflecting the opinions of an unprecedented number of employees and providing companies with a unique opportunity to assess and understand what needs to be done to accelerate people to the extraordinary.

Seven out of 10 university students intend to stay in the UAE after graduation, according to the latest Qudurat Wave III report 

DUBAI, UAE, 9 October, 2016 - The number of university students planning to stay in the UAE after graduating has risen 19 percent since 2013, to 69 percent, according to the 2016 Qudurat Wave III: Report commissioned by Aon Hewitt (NYSE: AON) and Dubai International Academic City, with course satisfaction, preparation for private sector careers and job opportunities among the reasons for a rise in Dubai’s ability to attract and retain global talent.

The findings of the report were revealed at an event hosted by Aon Hewitt and Dubai International Academic City, with 84 percent of students said to be satisfied with their course of study. The launch event, hosted at Dubai Knowledge Park, demonstrated findings of the report, and highlighted Dubai’s position as a desired academic destination for students. The report also points to a 36 percent drop in the number of Emirati students pursuing a career in the public sector. One in four Emirati students expressed an interest in becoming entrepreneurs and starting a business. 

Commenting on the importance of the findings, Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City, said: “Having a strong academic ecosystem in Dubai will provide students who aspire to create the economies of tomorrow with the infrastructure that is needed to get there. As Dubai seeks to create an innovative economy, findings from the 2016 Qudurat report demonstrate how aspirations of students are changing and how young people are becoming far more entrepreneurial and optimistic about their future, because of the opportunities to fulfil their ambitions in Dubai.” 

Elias Dib, Partner, Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: “The UAE is a fast-paced labour market with unique challenges. The study findings point to the changing expectations and aspirations of the new employees entering the workforce with a clear shift towards more realistic expectations from their employers as well as a stronger entrepreneurial sentiment. The insights provided should definitely help policy makers, business leaders and HR professionals develop comprehensive talent strategies to attract, develop and retain the best university graduates.”

Findings from the Qudurat Student Wave III study highlight that organisations and academia will need to make concerted efforts to forge strong and collaborative partnerships and seek coordinated solutions in preparing students to face upcoming workplace challenges.

Summary of findings:

  • Increase in popularity of the private sector and entrepreneurship as career path upon graduation among Emirati students
    • Only 17 percent Emiratis opting to work for the public sector in this wave of the study as compared to 53 percent in the previous wave. 26 percent Emiratis mentioned that they want to start their own business whilst 22 percent want to work in the semi-government sector. 
  • Emirati female students don’t want to be homemakers
    • Of the Emirati female students surveyed, none of them (0 percent) wanted to become a homemaker with a majority wanting to study further or start their own business. 
  • Expatriate students largely preferred to pursue a career in the private sector 
    • One in every five expatriates also chose to go down the entrepreneurial route post completion of their studies. 

Data for the Qudurat report, which means ’capabilities’ in Arabic, was collected from 996 national, transnational, and resident students enrolled at 10 academic institutions across Dubai, making it one of the most comprehensive studies in the region to focus on the advancement of national talent.

The study provides in-depth insights into the preferences and orientations among current and future workforces in the UAE, with the objective of informing the national agenda, aligning education and industry and driving economy productivity as Dubai transitions to a knowledge-based economy. 

The Qudurat research initiative is a longstanding regional initiative that has been conducted annually every three years since 2009. The first and second edition of the report have represented the voices of 27,000 respondents in seven countries, with support from over 150 organisations and institutions.

Outlook for GCC salaries optimistic for 2017

MIDDLE EAST, 4 September 2016 -  A GCC-wide survey of 600 multinational companies and locally-owned conglomerates - the largest study of its kind in the Gulf region - has forecasted that salary earnings will increase an average of 4.7% in 2017, demonstrating a more optimistic outlook across the board as GDP growth is also expected to climb in the year ahead. The same survey noted that in 2016 the region saw an average salary increase of 4.3%, which although positive, is down from an anticipated 5% increase for the year.

According to the latest GCC Salary Increase Survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), salaries have been largely influenced by fluctuating oil prices and states’ initiatives to diversify national economies. While 2016 proved to be a challenging period for economic expansion in some markets, over the next few years new policies governing inflation, taxation, diversification, and commodity pricing are anticipated to come into effect and lead to a general upswing in GCC salaries.

Moreover, the impact of lower oil prices and reduced public spending has not had the detrimental impact that some have anticipated, with most employers surveyed increasing the salaries of their employees this year and planning for even greater increases next year. As governments cut back on subsidies, refocus spending on large mega-projects, and with the announcement to introduce a region-wide VAT of 5% in January 2018, real GDP growth is expected to climb across the region in 2017 to 3.3%—up from 3% in 2016—according to the IMF.

Among the participating GCC organizations, companies based in Saudi Arabia noted the highest projection for salary increases in 2017 at an average of 4.9%; an increase on this year’s actual 4.6% climb. 

Kuwait-based organisations have similarly estimated salaries to rise by 4.8% in 2017, a significant increase from this year’s 4.3% climb although down from a 5.1% increase in 2015. 

Meanwhile companies operating in Bahrain have registered the third-highest salary increase projection within the GCC for 2017, reaching an average of 4.7%. Although optimistic, that falls just under the growth rate of 4.8% for this year—the highest in the region for 2016.

Both UAE and Oman-based companies projected an average salary increase of 4.6% for 2017. For the UAE, this marks a slight increase from the 4.4% average salaries growth seen in 2016. Oman’s outlook for 2017 also shows a marked increase from its latest 4.2% increase noted in 2016. 

Although companies in Qatar have again predicted the lowest increase in the Gulf region at 4.5% for 2017, that outlook is significantly higher than the recorded salary growth of just 3.6% this year. 

Robert Richter, GCC Compensation Survey Manager, Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: “Lower oil prices are likely to continue moderating the GCC’s economic growth this year, but a refreshed focus on non-oil sectors along with sustained programs of state investment should underpin GDP expansion into 2017. Of course, it is important to remember that HR salary projections are subject to change, however,  the latest predictions for 2017 salary increases do fall in line with the general economic climate with signs of optimism on the horizon.”

The latest survey also notes that actual salary increases for the year 2016 have been the highest for Pharmaceutical, Media, and Food/Beverage/Tobacco industries. The industries with the lowest salary increases for 2016 are Telcos, Construction and Oil & Gas, although salaries in each of these three sectors are expected to rebound year-on-year in 2017.

Aon Hewitt has been conducting a global salary increase survey on an annual basis across the globe for 30 years and launched it in the Middle East for the first time in 2012. The report is free to participating organizations and available at a price of $1000 to others. 

The survey is part of Aon Hewitt’s suite of evidence-based, research-led studies including Qudurat, Best Employers Middle East (BEME), Total Compensation Measurement (TCM™) and Top Companies for Leaders. 

Outlook for GCC Salaries for 2017
  Actual Salary Increase 2016 Projected Salary Increase 2017
Saudi Arabia 4.60% 4.90%
Kuwait 4.30% 4.80%
Bahrain 4.80% 4.70%
Oman 4.20% 4.60%
UAE 4.40% 4.60%
Qatar 3.60% 4.50%


Companies in UAE & KSA revise spending on employee allowances and benefits

MIDDLE EAST, 11 July 2016 - According to the latest GCC Allowances and Benefits Survey conducted by Aon Hewitt—the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON)—companies in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have reviewed their allowance and benefits packages in 2016 with most organizations spending more conservatively compared to previous years. While companies in the region are still spending about five per cent more on allowances and benefits year on year in 2016, the increase is about a third of that seen in previous years across areas such as housing, transportation and education allowances.

Experts at Aon Hewitt note that companies are still eager to attract and retain talent from around the world but are generally spending more selectively in line with the overall tone of the macroeconomic environment. The 2016 increase in allowances is in part explained by a few organizations doing a market correction rather than an overall increase across the board. There is also a heightened focus on training employees for greater productivity. One of the key concerns for organizations today is the most appropriate placement of the workforce, as well as driving achievement-based reward schemes in the workplace. 

The largest report of its kind in the GCC, the Aon Hewitt Allowances and Benefits Survey is based on an analysis of over 100 multinational companies and locally-owned conglomerates across different sectors. While the full survey provides detailed information across employee groups, individual countries and benefit categories, some of the top-level findings revealed that: 

  • Education assistance allowance has registered an increase of 5 per cent, and in UAE now ranges between AED25,000 for eligible junior professionals to AED58,000 for senior managers and executives per child across job roles. 

  • Housing allowances in the GCC have increased an average of 4 percent across all job roles, ranging from AED 43,000 for junior professionals to AED 225,000 for executives in the UAE specifically. 

Robert Richter, Compensation Survey Manager at Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: “Overall allowance and benefits allocations are a reflection of the economic times, and in 2016 that remains to be the case. Such investments are still an incredibly important consideration for companies looking to stay competitive with increased investments seen across the board. At the same time, companies have continued to rethink their allowance and benefits strategy in terms of eligibility, volume and overall salary fluctuations, with more conservative spending this year.” 

Aon Hewitt Launches Best Employers Middle East 2016

DUBAI, UAE, 9 January 2016 - Aon Hewitt, the global human resources business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), will kick start the year with the launch of its influential Best Employers Middle East 2016 study. The largest of its kind globally, the study is unique in terms of empowering organizations to improve talent acquisition and retention by enhancing the employer brand, as well as ultimately helping organizations drive high performance and achieve strategic objectives through organizational excellence. 

The study identifies Middle East best-in-class organizations that exemplify high levels of employee engagement, a culture of high performance, effective leadership and a compelling employer brand. It goes beyond recognition for qualifying participants, by providing insights into organizational success and outlining a roadmap for enhancing organizational performance.

“The timing of this year’s Best Employers Middle East study is crucial for businesses in the region. With 2016 shaping up to be the most competitive 12 months of recent times, the need for organizations to invest in talent, engagement, leadership and develop strong brand advocacy has never been so great. There is no longer a debate about the power of these factors on the organization bottom line; rather, the conversation around the boardroom today is how can we leverage our best people to take us to new heights and give us a competitive edge” said Dr. Markus Wiesner, Chief Executive Officer at Aon Hewitt Middle East.

Since its launch, Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers study has become an international benchmark for businesses. Reflecting the opinions of an unprecedented number of employees, it provides corporations with a unique opportunity to harness their greatest resource – their people.

“With unparalleled experience in conducting intensive reviews of HR best practices, Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers study is by far the most robust study of its kind. Launched in 2009 in the Middle East, the study has evolved to meet the changing needs of corporates and now offers a deeper insight to help participants achieve strategic goals. With hundreds of businesses participating in our study combined with an impressive clientele of 20,000 worldwide, it has universally gained momentum and became an important asset for multinationals, SMEs and local organizations alike, looking to maximize their employee engagement levels”, said Elias Dib, Partner and Study Director at Aon Hewitt Middle East.

Best Employers Middle East 2016 is helping to drive organizational performance with a series of high impact packages which focus on four measurable business performance areas: High Employee Engagement; Effective Leadership; High Performance Culture and Compelling Employer Brand. Participating organizations will receive different types of reports based on their participation level thus ensuring they have an advantage in an increasingly competitive business environment.

Package options
Base package: Includes the Best Employers Results Summary Report, comparing organization scores against named Aon Hewitt Best Employer organizations and identifying key success factors.

Insight package: Includes the Best Employers Results Detailed Report, comparing organization scores against named Aon Hewitt Best Employer organizations. In addition, organizations will also receive a People Practices Benchmark Report, which provides information on philosophies, policies and practices that directly affect the people within the business in comparison to the market. 

Action package: The Action package provides organizations with both the Best Employers Results Detailed Report, The People Practices Benchmark Report along with a detailed Engagement Report, comparing overall company scores against the Best Employers and other participants, identifying 14 engagement drivers and highlighting the most impactful engagement method to facilitate action planning. This also entails an outcome presentation, whereby an Aon Hewitt Consultant takes selected executive team members through the data, insights and benchmarks from the study. 

Additionally an Action+ package is available, providing organizations with an online tool to analyze data, generate tailored reports based on their organizational structure and employee demographics. 

Both the Action and Action+ offerings are only available to organizations with less than 500 employees. 

For further information about the study and to register for Best Employers Middle East 2016, visit or email