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Employee Retention in Higher Education

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 24 March 2018 4:35 PM CAT
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The necessity to attract and retain high-performing employees is both a concern and a challenge for organisations in general. Given the effort and expense that go into recruitment and retention, does this not imply that affected organisations – and certainly higher education institutions (HEIs) as discussed in this article – should be paying more attention to determining why their employees leave? 

The necessity to attract and retain high-performing employees is both a concern and a challenge for organisations in general. Given the effort and expense that go into recruitment and retention, does this not imply that affected organisations – and certainly higher education institutions (HEIs) as discussed in this article – should be paying more attention to determining why their employees leave? The South African Board for People Practices (2012) found in its annual HR survey that a significant 32 percent of South African organisations do not concern themselves with this phenomenon at all. However, 46 percent of them did indicate the matter of talent retention as a major concern. Management at the institution under investigation, prior to the inception of the present study (and having recognised retention as one of the pillars of its talent management strategy) had already deemed it necessary to investigate the matter. According to Robyn (2012, 1), talent retention has become a major concern for the higher education sector because of an aging workforce and limited prospects of recruiting and retaining young, talented individuals. Robyn (2012, 1) further states that the strength of an institution lies in its human capital and that it is therefore important to align human resource policies and procedures so as to attract and retain skilled employees. Retention is defined as the effort by employers to retain talented and high-performing employees in order to achieve organisational objectives (Fatima 2011, 25). Retaining high-performing employees or the ‘best professional talent’ is of great significance to organisations as it eliminates the recruitment, selection and on-boarding costs that would otherwise be incurred in replacing them (Tymon, Stumpf and Smith 2011, 293). In addition, it maintains continuity in their area of expertise. Turnover among top talent is a major concern for the higher education institution investigated here and, for this reason, the researchers took the decision to investigate retention and voluntary turnover decisions within the institution. 

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