7 Tips for Employers: How to Retain your South African Talent

Updated: Feb 19

The last thing any company wants is a high staff turnover and the loss of valuable workers. Their departure means putting time and money towards finding and training replacements. And perhaps worst of all, it can have a harmful impact on staff morale.


To prevent this, employers need to ensure their employees are satisfied with their job and workplace. There are various ways they can do this - taking note of what New Work-based companies are doing, for example. These companies draw from a concept called New Work that Frithjof Bergmann, an Austro-American social philosopher, coined in the 1970s.


New Work is an idea of an innovative work system that utilises modern technology in a way that gives employees freer reign over their jobs. It’s about adapting to changes brought about by technology by redefining job roles. As well as this, it's also about supporting employees’ interests, providing learning, and making the workplace staff-centric.


This concept replaces what Bergmann believed was an outdated, rigid work system that only cared about employers. What makes employees tick is often related to ideas taken from the New Work concept.


Let’s take a look at what makes South African employees happiest:


1. Recognition from bosses

All employees need recognition for a job well done. It makes them feel appreciated, accomplished, and satisfied that their hard work has paid off.


A simple thank you, along with bonuses, promotions and raises, are ways companies can recognise workers for their achievements.


2. Flexible working conditions

Having the choice to work remotely and during the hours they choose adds to employees' job satisfaction. This kind of flexibility given by a company strongly links to the New Work concept.


Many find that they have fewer distractions when they work from home, and feel less stressed. They also enjoy the flexibility and ability to work in different locations or even outside of typical office hours. What's more, remote working leaves more time for life outside of work.


However, in 2020, Microsoft conducted research on South African workplaces for its Work Reworked study and discovered an interesting finding. They found that South Africans enjoy having the option to work remotely, but also enjoy working in their company office some of the time, mainly to connect with colleagues and bosses in person.


In fact, the study found that on average, South African workers prefer to spend just under half (42%) of their time outside of the office.


At the height of the strict COVID level 4 lockdown in 2020, employees could only work remotely. A nationwide survey conducted by Giant Leap found that 86% wanted to return to the office, if not for every day of the week then at least for a few.


This shows that people still value office life to some degree, despite enjoying the freedom of remote work, as well as flexible hours. With flexible hours, employees can work at times in which they feel most productive.


As a matter of fact, flexible work conditions were cited in a 2019 study as the most important thing to South African workers. The study, DCMN Insights New Work, carried out research related to work culture in countries around the world.


3. Teambuilding activities outside of the office

The DCMN Insights research also found that 40% of South African workers surveyed want to have fun teambuilding activities with their team outside of office hours.


Teambuilding is a great way to help workers form bonds with each other, and in turn, increase the chances of them staying in the company. On the other hand, an employee who feels detached or alienated from their colleagues or boss will likely end up leaving.


Staff don’t need to be friends per se, but it’s important to be able to collaborate and communicate effectively. There’s no better way to build connections than through enjoyable activities.


4. Good leadership

According to The Balance Careers, the most common reason workers quit their jobs is because of their bosses, rather than because of their positions. Supervisors play a huge role in employee job satisfaction.


Managing workers well involves many things. These include communicating with workers about earning potential and expectations. They also include showing up for meetings, offering feedback, giving employees a framework for measuring their progress, and providing training.


Along with this, managers need to cultivate a positive work relationship with employees. This nurtures employees’ trust and helps them feel comfortable in their workplace and team.


5. Fair treatment

Employees need to feel their employers deal with them equitably. This means raises and bonuses equal to those of co-workers, reasonable salaries, and equal opportunities.


For instance, if one employee is given a project to work on that will gain them recognition in the company, employees of the same ranking should also get a chance to work on important future projects.

6. Freedom to speak their mind

Employers need to give workers a platform to speak their mind, and listen to what they have to say.


For example, employees may wish to voice their opinions on certain company procedures, ideas relating to team tasks, complaints, or requests. They would likely then expect feedback from managers.


7. Opportunities for growth

A work benefit many South Africans desire is access to free personal development courses, DCMN Insights research found.


This is just one example of how companies can feed employees’ need to grow and learn.


Providing them with seminars, challenging projects and tasks, and formal mentoring are a few other ways.


Employees also need time to work on their own growth. Companies can support this by giving them sufficient personal time to focus on other areas of their life.


What’s more, companies that are forgiving of failure and understand that employees can learn from their mistakes will also likely retain more staff.


In conclusion

Increasing employee retention involves paying attention to the above. Companies that practice giving their workers these things just might see their best employees sticking around for the long term.



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