Employee retention strategies at Department of Health - uMkhanyakude District.
Kubheka, Zamanguni Fortunate.
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All private and public sector organisations are faced with a major challenge of attracting and retaining skilled employees for long, as this is paramount to their success. The public health organisations have been affected the most, especially the ones in rural areas. Excessive and untimely resignations lead to increased recruitment and training costs, provision of poor health care services to the deprived communities and disruption in implementation of key programmes. One of Department of Health’s strategic objectives is to improve Human Resource Management Systems. The study was conducted to identify motivating factors, problems causing resignation and reviewing success of current retention strategies and identifying effective ones that can be adopted. Three out of five hospitals in Department of Health - uMkhanyakude district were selected. The study was undertaken using quantitative approach. A probability sampling using stratified method wherein only health care and allied professionals occupying senior, middle, operational and specialist positions were sampled. Ninety nine participants completed the questionnaire. Collected data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Constant availability of jobs within the healthcare sector prompts constant job search, with positions in urban areas being the most preferred. This increases employee mobility and leave vacant positions unfilled for longer period. Expecting remaining employees do more than own capabilities in an attempt to fill gaps and not to disrupt service delivery proved to be a problem. Not recognising and rewarding exceptional performance under such conditions is very demotivating. The findings supported literature as job satisfaction proved to be the significant motivating factor. Various other factors like job characteristics, work environment, management style and benefits of the job lead to job satisfaction. Empowering and involving employees in decision making and making growth opportunities available motivate employees as majority attested to this. Paying competitive salary package is an effective strategy but is not enough to retain employees as the majority confirmed that satisfaction with job characteristics is important. Resignations have the ability to push remaining employees to resign but this can be prevented by consideration of internal employees first when filling vacant positions. There is no successful retention strategy but focus should be on training and development, succession planning, empowerment and mentorship and support from management. A number of recommendations made included robust recruitment and talent management, recognition of exceptional performance, provision of non-monetary rewards to increase motivation and work-life balance as effective strategies.