Relationships between work-life balance practices and retention of academics at a South African University.
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The study examined the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) practices and the retention of academic staff at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus. WLB practices have the ability to improve employee retention and this study sought to determine if perceptions on the University’s WLB practices by academics have any impact on their decision to stay or leave the organisation. The retention of academic staff is of paramount importance to every institute of higher learning. With the current exodus of academics from one institute to another, universities are faced with a mounting task of retaining this group of individuals for their survival and success. In order to carry out the stated evaluation a mixed method design was employed to gather primary data. Two non-probability sampling techniques were employed in the study. Convenient sampling for quantitative data with a sample size of N=111 and purposive sampling N=5 for the qualitative data. The key findings of the research are that there is a negative relationship between the existence and awareness of WLB programmes among academics and their intention to leave. Regression analysis indicated that a unit increase in WLB will positively increase organisational commitment by 0.349 units as measured on the 5-point Likert scale (regression coefficient=0.349, p-value<0.001). The study also established, through exploratory factor analysis, that staff retention can be factored into three dimensions, namely, Work Related Frustration or Dissatisfaction, Job Searching Drive and Risk Taking. If levels of these three dimensions are determined, then one will have a picture of how intent on leaving is academic employee. To university management, this implies that, when crafting retention strategies, they need to recognise how WLB practices can impact employee’s organisational commitment and retention in institutions of higher learning. The study managed to contribute to literature by providing new knowledge that helps to address challenges of retaining employees in organisations especially academic staff in universities.