Factors Attracting and Retaining Professionals : a comparative study between the Private and Public sector
This study was conducted to explore and compare the factors that attract professionals to the private and public sector in South Africa, as well as what retains them in a sector. There is a scarcity of professional employees in the public sector, which does not seem to be an employer of choice for professionals. South Africa also suffers from a 'brain drain,' as many professionals are seeking employment outside their profession or in other countries. Professionals employed in the private sector seemingly are not keen to join the public sector, and employees in the public sector seem to wish to join the private sector. A mixed-method study, using both a quantitative and a qualitative approach, was used to answer the research questions: (i) What push and pull factors cause migration of professionals between the public and private sector? (ii) What factors limit the attraction and retention of professionals in the public sector? (iii) What factors motivate a professional employee to remain in the sector in which he or she works? A semi-structured, self-administered questionnaire investigating attraction and retention factors was used. The population of this study was confined to professionals in South Africa. Data were collected from a non-probability sample, which was selected using purposive and convenience sampling, of participants in both sectors. The final sample consisted of 36 participants from the private sector and 53 from the public sector. The researcher was also a participant and had to consciously deal with possible biases. The results indicate that the attraction factors in the private sector are remuneration and career development opportunities, whereas, for the public sector, it was the belief that it is a stress-free environment. The retention factors in the public sector were a love for the job and financial security. Factors that will improve attraction and retention in the public sector were: an improved remuneration, improved workplace policies, better career development and training opportunities, and improved management support. Furthermore, it was found that performance management, promotion, and lateral movement must be implemented to ensure continuity of employment. The implementation of legislation must be transparent, fair, and discretionary to attract and retain professionals. This study confirmed that the private sector has a higher level of attraction and retention than the public sector, and a greater number of professional employees would leave the public sector for the private sector than vice versa. The limitation of this study was the small sample size. It is recommended that a similar study with a larger sample be conducted to increase the findings' generalisability. Such studies should explore improvement strategies in respect of attraction and retention of professionals in the public sector in comparison to the private sector.