• Editor

SA companies struggling to retain their top employees

South African companies that are failing to create an ideal employee environment will struggle to attract and retain their top talent putting their businesses at a distinct disadvantage, according to new research from Remchannel.

The war for talent has driven SA employers to review their employee value proposition (EVP) – the reward philosophy of the organisation to attract and retain key talent which is crucial to the success and growth of the organisation.

Research conducted by Remchannel during 2021 found that just under 50% of respondents across industry sectors indicated that it remained a challenge to define or change the current EVP to keep up with the changes in the world of work and employee values.

Remchannel Managing Director René Richter says the need to enhance the EVP has been accelerated in the last two years amidst the sudden emergence of Covid-19. Family relations and quality of life has taken on a deeper meaning as workers came face to face with mortality and constant uncertainty.

“In the past, job security and decent remuneration was the price of admission for accessing top talent. Today though, these skilled workers for example want the flexibility to take their kids to swimming practice during traditional working hours and to complete their work during hours that suits their individual lifestyle. Flexibility is the new expectation.”

The EVP is the holistic approach to total reward taking both financial and non-financial rewards and benefits into account. This approach includes all benefits such as leave, maternity policy, employee wellness, retirement funding and medical aid, to name a few.

Richter notes that the combination of the two make a compelling employee value proposition but this is not the be all and end all, culture, effective leadership, and development, plays a role too. Workers will no longer put up with a workplace culture that is perceived as toxic. A toxic culture includes workers feeling disrespected, unethical behaviour, job insecurity, burnout, and lack of recognition among others.

“Employees today, particularly highly-skilled and white-collar workers not only want to feel invested in the work they do, but they also want to see that their employer is invested in them and their values,” says Richter.

Globally this phenomenon has led to what has been dubbed the Great Resignation – the mass resignation by workers across industries opting for a less stressful environment and meaning beyond financial reward.

Richter said: “We are certainly seeing signs of it in SA based on statistics from 2021. The extent of it is not as pronounced as it is globally, but with the pandemic potentially entering an endemic phase and employers insisting on a return to the pre covid work environment, resignations will most likely increase.

The Remchannel research asked employees across industry sectors to rate the level of importance regarding six EVP factors, namely remuneration; recognition; employee assistance; personal development; flexibility and well-being; and leadership effectiveness. The survey found that while employees in different industries have differing value priorities in the workplace, all six factors are valued.

Richter notes that enhancing the EVP has its challenges in SA. Cost implications to change existing benefit and remuneration structures and the extensive consultation process required by the employer to remain within the department of labour requirements, can disincentivise changes. There may also be a short-term impact in the cost base of the organisation whilst benefits may only be seen 12 to 24 months later.

However, she notes that EVP does provide a competitive advantage for employers and therefore the cost of loss of key talent must be quantified and offset against the costs to affect change.

“Understanding what employees want through engagement and other internal research will highlight the most contentious issues in an organisation,” she says.

“Engaging employees gives you a competitive edge, organisations should strive to become a great place to work in addition to the traditional benefits. The importance of the workplace culture in the retention of staff cannot be underestimated,” she concludes.