ABU DHABI // Companies are losing loyal, eager workers because employers fail to provide career development, a new survey suggests.

Almost all staff join companies with the intention of staying for at least three years, and more than half want to stay for five years, but they quit early and look for other jobs because there is no career development path.

“A lack of career progression is the number one reason people come to us looking for their next job,” said Chris Greaves, managing director of the recruitment consultant Hays UAE, who conducted the research.

“So we can’t emphasise enough the importance of putting career development plans in place.

“The survey suggests that despite the transient nature of work in the UAE, stability, security and loyalty are important for employees.

“As long as staff are offered stimulating work and their career continues to advance, most will stay.”

Hays surveyed 1,500 employees, of whom 94 per cent said they wanted to stay with their employer for at least three years and 47 per cent for at least five years.

Only 6 per cent wanted to change employer before two years were up.

Ben Waddilove of MacDonald and Co, a property recruitment consultancy in Dubai, said that despite the desires of most employees, the effect of low oil prices was limiting employment opportunities for thousands working in oil and gas.

Mr Waddilove, who has lived in Dubai for a decade after intending to move to the city for one or two years, said he was one of many staying longer than they expected.

“For expatriates from western countries such as the US, UK or Australia, we have seen that people are definitely staying for longer,” he said.

“Ten or 15 years ago things were very different. Now people know they can buy a house in Dubai, they can send their children to school here and the standard of living is high.”

But Mr Waddilove said the trend did not apply to many employees from areas such as the Indian subcontinent and North Africa, who tended to earn lower salaries and often changed employer in search of a better deal.