Data Hub

What matters most for people to live and work in Nairobi


Finding and retaining accomplished workers is the dream of most employers in all fast growing cities globally.

However, such aspirations often fall flat on the face of some employers especially when targeted workers opt to relocate to other areas or towns.

This has left emerging cities facing the pressures of finding, developing and keeping highly skilled workers.

“This pressure is compounded by the fact that ambitious, mobile and driven workers represent a flight risk — always. Although economic opportunities make these cities appear attractive financially, economic growth and investment alone do not always result in a desirable quality of life,” US-based giant human resources consulting firm Mecer says. A global survey by the firm of people in fast growing cites including Nairobi captured what truly matters to them about the cities in which they live and work — providing a fundamental understanding of why someone would want to move to a specific city or live there — and what employers need to do to compete for talent.

In Nairobi, employees said what mattered most in their stay in the city over the next one to five years would be access to affordable housing, safety and security, and air and water quality respectively.

The other factors that would guide their continued stay in Nairobi are the quality of transport and traffic and pay and bonuses.

Workers in Nairobi feel the current services and amenities don’t meet their expectation. The overall life satisfaction in Nairobi was ranked at 41 per cent against a sampled global average of 62 per cent among current and future megacities.

The study further showed that in Nairobi, the work factor satisfaction stood at 47 per cent, money (42 per cent), health (37 per cent) and human (40 per cent).

And in what may prove crucial to employers hoping to plan for the retention of their workers, the survey identified the main clusters of city residents as well as the specific factors that motivate them.

“Employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there — human and social factors are actually more important than money and work factors. Closing this gap necessitates understanding that each worker has a unique set of needs and, as such, employers must customise communications, compensation packages and programmes accordingly,” Mecer says.

The study identifies five persona living in cities — including confident achievers, professional families, white-collar professionals and graduates, struggling vocationals and business owners, and tradespeople.

The survey shows that Nairobi is dominated by business owners and skilled tradespeople at 31 per cent, followed by white-collar professionals and graduates (28 per cent), and confident achievers (20 per cent). Professional families and those struggling share equal portions of the rest of the pie at 10 per cent each.

Confident achievers are executives, senior professionals, predominantly males 25 to 44 years old. They are university graduates with a high income, high life satisfaction and financial security.

Confident achievers are most likely to stay in the city once here. They are not motivated to change cities and, in fact, are looking for a city where they can get a complete package: the pay and benefits they value, including skills development, savings, insurance and retirement.

Overall, they are looking for a better life and for employers to help them attain it. White-collar professionals and graduates are those with skilled professional jobs, such as administration and information technology, or skilled work, such as police or military.

Typically younger, they are graduates and on a career path. As such, they are very interested in career advice. This group skews more towards millennials, females and those who are still renting and living with family, which makes them also interested in receiving advice on saving money. They have a medium to high satisfaction with life.

Struggling vocationals, in most cases, have either high school education or vocational qualification, are in low to medium income jobs, typically single — the highest proportion of singles in the study — and tend to be younger females.

Often, they rent or live with their family. They are financially insecure and struggling to get ahead. As a result, they are stressed and motivated by pay.

Business owners and skilled tradespeople are either self-employed or live close to home, largely working for themselves in trades like building, carpentry or plumbing.

This group, low to middle income, is a mix of ages. They are interested in retirement savings, health and wellness, and because they are driven by their skills they want to improve their professional development.

Financially, the insecure and not particularly well paid. This group wants help finding better jobs, careers and skills development — as well as to improve their health.

The study sampled 7,200 people across 15 current and future megacities in seven countries — based upon their projected GDP and population growth for the next decade.

Today, the 15 cities — Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Nairobi, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Casablanca and Lagos — have a combined population of 114 million.

By 2030, this is expected to grow by 30 per cent to 150 million — equivalent to the size of Poland or that of Denmark, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands combined.