Recently, StatsSA released a report that said unemployment in the country has increased exponentially – having gone up from 24,5% in the previous quarter to an astonishing 26,7% in the first quarter of this year. Some of the people included in this are those who resigned from their jobs with no promise of another one, which begs the question: why would someone leave a job with no promise of security?
We spoke to the CEO of the South African Board for People Practices, Marius Meyers, about some of the reasons why South Africans leave their jobs and what employers can do to better retain top talent.
Surprisingly, the top reason why Meyers says South Africans are leaving their jobs has nothing to do with money, but because they feel undervalued and unseen at their workplaces.
“Employees don’t feel appreciated. They feel that their talents are not leveraged and optimised in the organisation. Yes, South Africa might have one of the highest job satisfaction rates in the world, but employees feel that they’re not getting appreciated and recognised,” he says.
I left because there was no room for growth and there was no recognition. One would work hard, but it was never recognised in any way.
A lot of companies are cutting costs at every corner and the workforce often falls within this. Meyers argues that this might be one of the biggest mistakes employers can make.
“There’s a practice, and I think a very bad practice, after someone resigns. Once they’ve resigned, employers don’t offer the position to someone else, but rather redistribute the workload among those who are left. In other words, they have 16 people doing the workload that used to be done by 22 people – this overload can lead to frustration and employees leaving,” he says.
Lack of follow-through
Meyers says that often employees voice their concerns and employers don’t take them seriously. This type of response is detrimental to the morale of your employees and speaks to the point of employees feeling under-appreciated.
“If employees feel that they’ve addressed their concerns, or even that they’ve made suggestions for improving problems or services, and there’s no follow through on that, they feel that they aren’t valued,” he says.
So how can you retain staff?
1. Make your employees feel valued
Meyers says it’s important for employers to create a culture where people feel appreciated and valued.
“I can’t emphasise enough how people need to feel that recognition… that their managers really appreciate their hard work and the extra hours they put in,” he says.
2. Develop company culture
Meyers also believes in the importance of leadership within the company to help develop a company’s culture.
“Once you have a company culture in place, then you’re really able to see how you can retain staff, how you can get their job satisfaction levels up, how you can utilise their talents effectively, and how you can support them with their personal problems and issues,” he says.
Some companies are only interested in the well-being of the customer, but employers need to see their employees as ‘internal customers’.
He says employees need to see that there’s a balance in the relationship. They need to know that it’s a two-way street and that employers really understand and value a work-life balance.
3. Employee engagement
“The ability of managers to really engage their employees, to show them the bigger picture, to help them with opportunities, and to allow them to give input is a very important trait,” Meyers says.
The more an employee feels like an important part of the company, the better the buy-in, and the more they’ll see that the company is there for them – not only focused on customers and clients.
“Some companies are only interested in the well-being of the customer, but employers need to see their employees as ‘internal customers’ because the better you look after your ‘internal customers’ the better they’ll look after your ‘external customers’,” he says.
Palesa Kganyago, 37, left her job with no plan of what would come next. She had no other job offer or any other type of financial security, but she knew that she could no longer continue working in an environment that didn’t recognise her ethic and her worth, where she didn’t have a voice and where there was no potential for moving forward.
“I left because there was no room for growth and there was no recognition. One would work hard, but it was never recognised in any way. I also left because I was frustrated. Employees had no voice – your input was null and void,” she says.
“All these things left me feeling demotivated, frustrated and, honestly, I felt dead. If I’d stayed any longer I would’ve probably ended up doing the same thing for the next 20 years and, while I didn’t have a plan for the future, I knew I couldn’t stay,” she continues.