Assessing employee turnover of young professionals in the wastewater sector : the East Rand Water Care case study

Kapa, Mzoxolo Wilberforce (2015-12)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africa, as a water-scarce country is faced with shortage of water managers and engineers. The situation is due to employee turnover caused by competition; employee migration to cite a few reasons. The shortage results in poor wastewater works’ management; the contamination of secondary sources of water like dams and rivers. Other results of the shortage are the deterioration of community health, water infrastructure and the work overload experienced by the overstretched managers still in the system. The reduction of the reasons for employee turnover in the wastewater sector would ensure the dignity and rights of citizens are restored and respected respectively and the environment properly maintained. The retention of Plant managers in charge of the Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) in the country, and more specifically in the East Rand Water Care, a subsidiary of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM), cannot be postponed any further as it is imperative to avoid further losses of key employees. The study sought to assess the reasons for the high turnover of young Plant managers within the East Rand Water Care; to highlight the negative effects of the problem; to review the organization’s existing policies meant to curtail the problem and to propose measures to curb the challenge. A vital distinction to clarify is that the research looks at voluntary turnover, not involuntary turnover. The case study, content and secondary data analyses were the designs used to conduct the research with the East Rand Water Care as the organization to be studied in order to discover the degree to which the wastewater sector utilises employee retention strategies to control employee turnover. Secondary qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods, and primary data in the form of structured interviews, were used to gather data which were interpreted to inform the research results. A total of seven, inclusive of personal and organizational, reasons were found to be behind the voluntary employee turnover rate. Professional perceptions were found not to be among the reasons for employee turnover within the organization. The most common reasons for employee turnover, the research found were: • Low identification with the wastewater environment; • Economic reasons; • Poaching; • Lack of higher incentives; • Communication and • Family. • The most unique reason found, concerned the health risks associated with the wastewater industry. Weakened knowledge capture, re-use and management; financial costs and high absenteeism were some of the negative effects caused by the turnover of young Plant managers. Most importantly, the poor achievement in Green Drop assessments is another negative effect brought about employee turnover. Green Drop assessments are an annual initiative of the Department of Water and Sanitation that assess the quality of the final effluent of municipal wastewater and award certificates for those wastewater works that achieve the expected levels of high quality. The research also found that all the policies meant to assist internal organizational employee retention were not succeeding in achieving the retention of Plant managers. The reason for their failure was that they were not primarily meant for employee retention. The results provide an indication that there is a need for a concerted effort by the organization to put in place measures that would lessen the quits of valuable employees like: • Retention policy development and implementation which should be applied and monitored to ensure the compliance with the government plan of a healthy environment. If the retention of such employees is not prioritized, the municipal obligation of providing a healthy environment to the citizens by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality through its subsidiary would be compromised.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Werknemeromset lei daartoe dat Suid-Afrika as ‘n waterskaars land ‘n tekort aan waterbestuurders en wateringenieurs ervaar. Twee van die redes hiervoor is kompetisie vir hulle dienste en werknemermigrasie. Die tekort veroorsaak dat afvalwaterwerke agteruitgaan; sekondêre waterbronne soos riviere en damme besoedel word; gemeenskapsgesondheid en waterinfrastruktuur agteruitgaan; en ooreiste bestuurders wat nog in die stelsel werksaam is, oorlaai word. Suksesvolle uitskakeling van die redes vir werknemeromset in die sektor sal verseker dat die waardigheid en regte van burgers onderskeidelik herstel en gerespekteer word en dat die omgewing behoorlik in stand gehou word. Die behoud van aanlegbestuurders in beheer van die rioolsuiweringswerke (RSW) in die land, en meer spesifiek in die Ekurhuleni Metropolitaanse Munisipaliteit (EMM), kan dus geensins verder uitgestel word nie, daar dit noodsaaklik is om verdere verliese te voorkom. Die studie het ten doel gehad om die redes vir die hoë omset van jong aanlegbestuurders in die Oos-Rand Watersorgorganisasie te evalueer; die negatiewe gevolge van die probleem uit te lig; die organisasie se bestaande beleid wat bedoel is om die probleem te bekamp in oorsig te neem, en om maatreëls voor te stel om die probleem aan te spreek. ‘n Belangrike onderskeid wat uitgeklaar moet word, is dat die navorsing vrywillige omset ondersoek het en onwillekeurige omset uitgesluit het. Die benadering wat gevolg is, was dié van ‘n gevallestudie van die Oos-Rand se watersorgorganisasie om te bepaal tot watter mate die afvalwatersektor se strategieë vir die behoud van werknemers in werking gestel word om werknemeromset te oorkom. Sekondêre kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe data-insameling en ontledingsmetodes insluitend gestruktureerde onderhoude is onderneem om inligting te bekom en te interpreteer om die navorsingsresultate in te lig. Sewe redes van persoonlike en organisatoriese aard is vir die vrywillige werknemer uitvalsyfer gevind. Daar was geen aanduiding van professionele persepsies onder die redes vir die werknemeromset binne die organisasie nie. Die mees algemene redes vir werknemeromset was ‘n lae gaad van identifikasie met die afvalwateromgewing; ekonomiese redes; wegrokkeling; gebrek aan hoër aansporings; onvoldoende kommunikasie; en druk van familie. Gesondheidsrisiko's wat verband hou met die afvalwateraanleg is geïdentifiseer as die mees unieke rede vir werknemeromset. Verswakte kennisvaslegging, hergebruik en bestuur; swak prestasie met betrekking tot Green Drop assesserings; finansiële koste; en verhoogde afwesigheid was 'n paar van die negatiewe gevolge van die omsetkoers van jong aanlegbestuurders. Die resultate gee 'n aanduiding dat daar 'n behoefte bestaan vir 'n doelgerigte poging in die organisasie om maatreëls in te stel wat sal verhoed dat waardevolle werknemers bedank. Die ontwikkeling van 'n beleid om werknemers te behou en die implementering daarvan moet toegepas en gemonitor word om nakoming van die regering se visie vir 'n gesonde omgewing te verseker. Die munisipale verpligting om 'n gesonde omgewing vir burgers van die Ekurhuleni Metropolitaanse Munisipaliteit deur die rioolsuiweringswerke te bewerkstellig, sal benadeel word indien die behoud van bogenoemde werknemers nie 'n prioriteit word nie.

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