Attracting and retaining academic research staff: a case study of an institution of higher learning.
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The attraction and retention of staff remains one of the major concerns that face organisations world wide including Higher Education Institutions. This study assesses the challenges experienced by one such institution in attracting and retaining academic staff and focuses on the effectiveness of the strategies employed to address the challenges. In South Africa most of the Higher Education Institutions distinguish themselves through their research thrusts and compete for human capital that can assist in achieving the research agenda and offer the institution a competitive advantage over others. Although most of the research in talent management has been conducted in organisations other than higher education institutions, the challenges are the same with the added challenges in higher education of limited resources and growing student numbers. The study was conducted across one institution with defined categories of academic researchers as well as senior management group. Primary data was collected using self administered questionnaires for the researcher respondents and interviews with the management respondents. Secondary data was collected through documentary analysis of the relevant institution’s records. Data was analysed using SPSS and different tests were used including Kruskal Wallis test, Chi Squared test, Cronbach Alpha tests and Fischer’s Exact test. The results of this study showed that although talent management systems exist in the institution, there were still some attraction and retention challenges that the institution experiences and that some of the strategies such as recruitment, promotion, performance management and talent management were not as effective. However, there were good development programmes that had been employed to develop and support academics in the research agenda. The study recommends that the institution revisit its recruitment strategies, promotion criteria and performance management in order to attract and retain staff of high calibre. . The image of the institution and its organisational culture also require attention. It is further recommended that 360° assessment be embedded to all levels of leadership in the institution. Keywords: Attraction, Retention, Higher Education Institutions, Talent Management.