Purpose: - The purpose of the research is to identify key factors influencing employee retention in the South African national government departments that will assist towards developing a guide/framework for departmental-specific retention strategies.
Design/methodology/approach- The research was conducted in 3 phases. Phase 1 classified 33 national departments into homogenous subgroups with respect to their number of employees. Phase 2 established turnover rates and calculated average monthly turnover rate benchmarks for each subgroup. Phase 3 was a multiple case study analysis. Four departments were selected from each subgroup for the case study where selection was based on a department's turnover rate relative to the benchmark rate. The twelve selected national departments participated in a cross sectional survey. The questionnaire consisted of 32 questions based on either “yes” or “no” responses.
Findings: - The statistical analysis confirmed a significant relationship between departments with turnover rates below the benchmark and positive responses for the combined subgroups of small, medium and large departments. A relationship was also observed for the subgroups of small and large departments. Absence of -workforce plans, counter-offer policy, monitoring mechanisms for turnover, alternate career paths, talent pools, succession planning, rotation programmes, identification of adjustment difficulties, promotion of organisational culture, measuring successes of retention strategies, job re-designs, and accessibility to senior managers were factors that were found to influence employee retention in the public service.
Originality/value- The paper presents average monthly turnover rate benchmarks for small, medium and large South African national government departments, factors influencing employee retention and a model for analysing employee turnover. No study to date has been conducted on turnover in national government departments from an organisational perspective.
Keywords: Employee turnover; South Africa; National government departments; Benchmark
Biography: Sagaren is a senior manager at Statistics South Africa responsible for the quarterly establishment employment surveys.His areas of interest include modelling labour turnover and estimation methodology for business surveys.