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An investigation into the perception of academic staff on talent retention in higher education institutions.

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Among the findings of the institutional audits performed by the HEQC (January 2012), institutions experienced serious challenges in retaining competent academic staff (HEQC Report, 2012, p.34). The aim is to explore the motivation and hygiene needs that influence staff retention at tertiary institutions; and to determine the perceptions of staff regarding staff retention practices in tertiary institutions. This study uses quantitative research methodology. Academic staff is the target population for this study with a sample of 78 participants. The highest percentage of 85.8 per cent (n=67) indicates that academic staff are still available for another employer who may want to hire them, and they could leave anytime. The majority of employees, 87.3 per cent (n=62) are unhappy with developmental opportunities in the universities. Additionally, those unhappy with training opportunities and unhappy with the job itself include 80.3 per cent (n=57). The majority of the respondents, 44.8 per cent (n=35) have a negative perception towards staff retention. After analysis has been made, it shows that good retention could ensue, but only through taking the respondents’ views into consideration, when the institutions develop their retention policy, and talent management strategies. The supervisor is the main factor in an employee’s decision to stay or leave. He/she should be a trust-builder, a good communicator, talent developer and a good coach. The research revealed that one of the bedrock aspects of the institution, namely working conditions, seems not to be conducive for better performance and this affects other strategies in the long run, and the work system causes many employees to fail to perform, and as a result, they feel demotivated and want to leave the institution. Promotion and compensation have also shown to be other factors that need to be overhauled in order to keep employees from leaving the institution. Finally, it should be clear to the employees what constitutes success in the institution. Employees should be valued and recognised for the work they are contributing, and recognition is the key for high performance and effective work management.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.