David Anderson
Edward Kiplimo
Francis Omanyala
International at Mercer
Kenya National Housing Survey
Martine Ferland
Mercer Africa
Nairobi County
Standard] Employees
The Government
United Nations

What employees in Nairobi rank high when deciding on where to live

Nairobi city. The study examined the needs of workers in the world’s fastest-growing cities on human, health, money, and work. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Employees in Nairobi city rank affordable housing as the most important factor in deciding where to live and work.

This is according to a study by global human resource consulting firm Mercer.

The study follows a 2012/13 Kenya National Housing Survey in March 2015 which revealed that Nairobi residents spend 40 per cent of their income on rent – nearly 10 percentage points above the United Nations’ (UN) recommended maximum of 30 per cent.

The study found that tenants in the capital pay rent at seven percentage points above the national average of 33.1 per cent.

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More importantly, the survey found that 80 per cent of Kenya’s urban dwellers are tenants.

The Government, through the Big Four agenda, has embarked on constructing 500,000 affordable houses by 2022. Only 50,000 houses are constructed annually against an annual demand of 200,000.

According to the Kenya 2013 Kenya Housing Survey, there will be a deficit of about two million units in the next 10 years.

The study examined the needs of workers in the world’s fastest-growing cities in four key factors – human, health, money and work.

Affordable housing was followed by safety and security, air and water quality, transportation and traffic, and finally life satisfaction.

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“With this in mind, governments and large businesses have a role to play in making cities more attractive in meeting the top needs of employees,” says Francis Omanyala, an associate at Mercer Africa.

The study provides critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of competition for highly-skilled talent.

Titled , the study surveyed 7,200 workers and 577 employers in 15 current and future megacities in seven countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, and Nigeria.

The respondents were surveyed via a mix of online and face-to-face interviews from July to August 2018. As defined by the UN, these 15 cities will have a combined population of 150 million people by 2030 and share strong projected GDP.

“There are unprecedented opportunities in growth markets, yet they come with inherent challenges. The rapid growth of next-generation cities sees them poised to leapfrog larger markets but, in order to do so, they need to attract and keep highly-skilled people,” said Martine Ferland, the group president at Mercer.

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“We learned that employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there. Moreover, cities are not performing well when it comes to addressing many of the more human and social factors that are listed as important among key employee groups. This dynamic creates natural tensions between what people value most and a city’s ability to deliver.”

The study explored 20 critical factors across four people-based pillars – human, health, money and work.

Respondents were asked to rank five factors, based on how important they were in affecting their decision to stay in or leave a city.

The most compelling finding was that for cities and businesses to attract the right talent to do the work of the future, human and social factors are the most important.

“The rapid urbanisation of growth economies is certainly a hot topic, yet what’s not being properly addressed is the needs of people and the human and social factors that drive their decision-making when it comes to what city they live and work in,” said David Anderson, President, International at Mercer.

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“That revelation is important when you recognise it is those very people upon whom the future of cities and the future of work depend.” The study revealed that what people desired most was a better life for themselves and their families.

Overall, satisfaction with life ranks as the most important factor for workers in deciding whether to live in or quit a city.

When considering a move to a new city, workers rate life satisfaction twice as important than employers realise.

Safety and security rank second, followed by income, proximity to family and friends and career and job opportunities.

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