Job Dissatisfaction in the Private Sector in Saudi Arabia

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With nearly half of all Saudis expressing their dissatisfaction with their job, our research set out to look at the root causes within the Saudi context.

Although the most obvious factor for being dissatisfied with one’s job would seem to be financial, i.e. the more money we make the happier we are at work, this factor is only significant up to a certain point. Based on research in the field, we believe this cutoff point to be around 150% of the average GDP per capita, which in Saudi Arabia amounts to a salary of 110,000 SAR per year.

In fact, with the Saudi workforce being so young, the private sector usually relies on expressing the employee’s value through the monthly salary, as opposed to a more complex compensation package that would include other incentives that provide higher levels of motivation and satisfaction. With the lack of such incentives, the absence of other critical factors may play a bigger role in job dissatisfaction, factors such as good management, career training and available opportunities, as well as feeling appreciated and being part of decision-making.

We are especially interested in looking at the “Saudization” policy, by virtue of which private sector companies must fill a certain number of positions with Saudi nationals. The policy, originally adopted to reduce unemployment among Saudis, has had a slew of unintended repercussions on the private sector job culture, including “ghost Saudization” where companies have individuals on payroll merely to fulfil the quota, as well as forcing companies to hire a more expensive and less talented workforce. In short, creating an artificial – rather than market-driven – hiring policy has generated a whole system of activities, policies and procedures exclusively applied to the Saudi workforce. Therefore, our research focuses on Saudi citizen job dissatisfaction, in an effort to shed light on key factors and come up with recommendations to improve job satisfaction within the private sector.

In our next blog post, will delve into our key findings as well as recommendations.


Haider A. Alabdulaal

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Haider is one of the MBA founding class to recently graduate from MBSC. He had engaged in several projects in the Oil & Gas industry and authored several papers in the field of corporate business organizational management, strategy and entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. He started his career in Halliburton/Landmark before joining Saudi Aramco where he assumed several positions in different key upstream departments within the Upstream Business Line. Haider holds a B.S. in Engineering (Honor) from Colorado School of Mines and M.S. from Texas A&M University. During his time at Prince Mohammed Bin Salman College of Business & Entrepreneurship (In collaboration with Babson College) he co-founded LegalShop, a digital legal service that provides quick, affordable, innovative and reliable legal solutions and services.

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