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Employee turnover and retention in South African municipalities : the case of Sisonke District Municipality.

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In South Africa municipalities are a key cornerstone in the delivery of services to citizens. Managing human resources becomes essential, especially given the fact that municipalities are service organisations and major infrastructural backlogs exist within the country. Furthermore, effective planning, operations and maintenance of the infrastructure are continuously required; this calls for competent human resources. The KwaZulu-Natal Integrated Development Plans Appraisal Committee requested the Sisonke District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal to address the issue of high employee turnover in the municipality and develop a retention strategy. This study was therefore intended to establish and investigate the factors that contribute to the turnover of employees at the said Municipality. The research was conducted with a sample of 40 of the Municipality’s staff members across all its departments. A survey research strategy was selected for this study, and self administered questionnaires were utilised to collect data from the respondents. The results revealed that lack of recognition; pay; no performance rewards; lack of consultation during policy development; lack of performance assessments; poor communication; better career prospects elsewhere; and no training and development by managers contribute to high employee turnover in the municipality. Furthermore, the study established that there was no relationship between employee turnover and the councillor-employee relationship, the rural nature of the municipality or ethnic discrimination. However, the results indicated that a relationship existed between employee turnover and working conditions in the municipality. It is consequently recommended that the municipality extend a performance management development system to all employee levels in the municipality. This can be by means of adopting and refining the Performance Management System already approved by the Department of Public Service for the public sector and currently being implemented by all government departments. In addition the municipality needs to invest in the development and empowerment of its managers and in return hold them accountable by adding a clause in their performance agreements regarding the management and empowerment of people. Lastly, the municipality needs to consider reviewing its salary structure or the possibilities of having incentives as rewards for best performance; and some incentives that will serve to attract employees and reduce their turnover.


M.B.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville 2009.


Labor turnover., Employee retention., Theses--Business administration.