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Why Employees Are Staying

EVER wondered why some formally employed workers continue to report for work on a daily basis despite the worsening economic environment characterised by hyperinflation, soaring transport costs, ever increasing prices of goods and services and  salaries that can hardly last a week?

According to a survey titled “Why employees are opting to remain with their current employer” conducted by an independent human resources consultancy, Organisational Excellence Consultants (OEC) this month, 32% of participating employees reported that “good welfare policies” were the major contributory factor for staying with their current employer.
The welfare policies include provision of basic commodities (Baccosi), company cars, fuel, school fees, accommodation, medical aid, loans and transport.
“Married employees cited welfare (policies) as the main reason why they are staying with their current employers. Employees who are not married cited the availability of development opportunities as the main reason for staying with their current employer,” stated the survey.
About 20% of the 424 employees picked from 15 different companies  from the financial, manufacturing, production, mining, agriculture, professional and telecommunication sector that participated in the survey said their decision to stay with the same company was driven by “opportunities to develop within the organisation”.
“Under this dimension employees cited the availability of learning opportunities, through self-development and opportunities to embark on educational courses such as degrees and diplomas,” the survey said.
With most organisations operating below capacity a number of employees have taken advantage of the extra free time on their hands to embark on employer-funded educational programmes.
“Some employees cited the need to gain wide and vast experience before moving to join another employer. They viewed their current employers as offering opportunities to gain the needed experience.
“Some organisations have also developed their own internal academies in conjunction with universities and colleges to give all employees an opportunity to develop,” said the survey.
About 18% of the participants cited “lack of opportunities” for staying with the current employer.
Entry-level workers between the ages of 20 and 30 cited “opportunities to develop within the organisation as their motivation for continued commitment to their current employers”. This trend, the report revealed, could have been necessitated by opportunities arising from massive exodus of skilled labour to neighbouring countries and abroad.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are believed to have left the country’s worsening political and economic problems for greener pastures.
An increase in company closures and job cuts around the country could have led 18% of the workers to continue going to work because of limited employment opportunities. With an estimated unemployment level of 80%, the survey indicated that most workers above 40 years accounted for 11% of workers that remained with the same employers because of “family or personal reasons”.
The survey said 6% cited good remuneration, which are reviewed monthly or paid in foreign currency.
Payment of “salaries” through coupons, attractive packages and timely revision of earnings in line with inflationary pressures, the survey reported was also the key of employee retention.
Labour unions are however pushing for payment of salaries in foreign currency or the suspension of foreign currency licensed shops, which they blame for the sharp rises in prices of basic goods and services. These demands come at a time when the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has reintroduced a monthly basket for a family of six, which is now pegged at US$280, much higher than South Africa’s US$79,47.
Most shops that have foreign currency trading licences are charging exorbitant prices for their imports, disregarding advice by the Reserve Bank that they put a mark-up of 30% after factoring in transport and other related costs.
About 5% said they were staying with the current employer because they hoped that the socio-political environment would improve. Only 4% cited job security (sound and solid
company which cannot be shaken by the economic turmoil prevailing in the company) for staying with the same employer.
Independent economist John Robertson said although the survey reflected the main reasons for staff retention in the formal sector, it fell short of reflecting other underhand dealings that motivated workers to work.
“The survey is quite accurate in the formal sector employment because of the longstanding relationships that could be existing between employers and employees,” Robertson said. “But the same participants could have ignored other reasons that could be in conflict with company interests.”
Apart from moonlighting, Zimbabwean workers eke out a living through commodity broking at their workplaces and in some cases “misuse” of company resources to augment paltry incomes.
Self-actualisation and “good management” according to the survey were the least reasons for keeping staff at work, accounting for 3% and 1% respectively.
The survey warned that if the current economic environment does not improve, more workers would join the thriving informal sector.
“In the event that the economic environment does not improve in the short to medium term we are likely to see a number of employees opting to stay at home as the current Zimbabwe dollar-denominated salaries are not helping them.”
“Those with requisite skills in demand in the region and internationally are likely to move as well. The impact of the two scenarios on the economy will be devastating,” said the survey.
By Bernard Mpofu

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