Talent management in South African universities : management and recruits' expectations and perceptions
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The universities of South Africa are confronted with a changing workforce. The so-called ‘Baby Boomers’ are soon to be retired from the universities and there is not sufficient time to develop talent to fill the gap. Therefore, a majority of the skills, knowledge, and experience may be lost when the ‘Boomers’ exit the university environment. Additionally, employees may resign for other reasons such as when their needs and expectations are not met. If universities wish to remain, or develop into outstanding institutes of learning, management need to invest in their talented employees. Such employees are validated as the individuals who will lead universities into the future through their performance, skills, and knowledge. If universities want to create and sustain a talented workforce, they should also invest in their talent management programme, which includes the applicable strategies, policies and procedures. Talented employees (i.e. talent recruits) are much sought after and have the luxury to choose at which organisation they want to pursue their careers. Previous findings show that globally universities have not implemented a comprehensive talent management programme. Therefore it stands to reason that some of these shortcomings in talent management may also hamper universities in South Africa. Moreover, viewed from the other perspective, it is still unclear what talented employees need and expect from their universities. If the talent management champions were cognisant of talented employees’ needs and expectations, then they would be able to design, develop and execute effective talent management programmes to support the talent recruits, an intervention that could lead to higher engagement and retention levels. The aim of the present study was to investigate the status quo of talent management in South African universities as viewed from the perspectives of both management and recruits. The study worked from an interpretative paradigm to explore the expectations and perceptions of management and recruits within the selected South African universities. Therefore the subjective experiences of individuals were investigated by means of a qualitative phenomenological approach in order to achieve the objectives of the present study. For the purpose of this research two articles were utilised. A multiple case study strategy was followed in both articles. Three universities of South Africa (N = 3) were involved in the research study. Article 1 discusses the research method of purposive convenience sampling that was employed. The participants included the staff members primarily responsible for driving talent management within their specific university (n = 3). The data was collected through semi-structured interviews and a document analysis. Such an analysis was followed to investigate the different policies and procedures for talent management in South African universities in order to understand how talent recruits are managed. The aim also was to determine whether talent was managed as the universities intended. The data obtained from the interviews, policies and procedures were examined closely by means of a content analysis. Article 2 reports the snowball convenience sampling that was utilised for the purpose of the present research study. The participants consisted of the employees who were identified as talent by their university (n = 31). For the second article the data was also obtained through semi-structured interviews. These interviews were analysed by means of a thematic content analysis. For Article 1 the findings indicated that the participating universities have not implemented formal talent management policies and procedures. In some instances, limited strategies, policies and procedures were in place to support the talent management programmes. In Article 2, it was evident from the results of the research study that talent recruits have various needs and expectations from their universities’ talent management programme. Different themes were extracted to indicate these motivators regarding their universities. These themes cover the full talent management spectrum and range from needs for resources, job information and assistance, incentives, challenges, opportunities for self-development, to various work-related benefits. Finally, recommendations were made for future research and the contributions of the present study to the Human Resources practice. It was recommended that universities review their talent management programmes, and furthermore that these programmes are designed to align with the needs and expectations of talented employees.