Retention strategies as a strategic lever to retaining private sector pharmacists in KZN.
One of the fundamental goals of an organisation is the ability to obtain, cultivate and sustain resources. Strategic and imminent use of these resources is thus essential for organisational success. The importance of retaining critical employees cannot be overstated but the global shortage of health care workers, of which pharmacists are ranked amongst the scarcest, makes it a strategic imperative for the pharmaceutical industry. The global shortage is prevalent in Africa due to the migration of pharmacists both internally and externally. To alleviate migration, the South African government has implemented a reward and retention strategy, known as occupation specific dispensation (OSD), in the public pharmaceutical sector. This has been the area of focus in most literature but the impact of this strategy on the private pharmaceutical sector in terms of retaining pharmacists has not been fully assessed. The study thus aimed to identify the effect that occupation specific dispensation has on retaining pharmacists in the private sector and to make recommendations to enhance retention within this sector. Using primary data in the form of a structured internet-based questionnaire, 169 private sector pharmacists practising in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) formed the sample size for the study. The study undertook a descriptive, cross-sectional, quantitative approach. Findings illustrate that the majority of the respondents were female and between the ages of 30 and 39 and 72% had prior public sector experience. Evaluation of the main arguments illustrates that OSD is changing the perceptions of private sector pharmacists and impacting the private pharmaceutical sector’s ability to retain pharmacists. The implementation of a retention strategy with foundations in career advancement, work-life balance and a supportive management structure is thus a strategic imperative for the private pharmaceutical sector.