Talent management of South Africa's Generation X : a psychological contract perspective
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Generation X has been well researched globally, yet very little is known about this generation in South Africa. Whilst academia have reached a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics that define this generation in and out of the workplace, little to no effort has been made to explore the influence a multicultural Generation X workforce has on the psychological contract within an employment context. South Africa’s higher education sector has been facing a number of changes and challenges over the past fifteen years. The recent #FeesMustFall campaign by students, however, looks set to bring change with far-reaching impact for students, higher education institutions, and the employees who work there. Change within an organisation or employment sector causes alterations to the existing psychological contract between employer and employee. Whilst employers would like to keep their relationship with employees stable, they first need to understand who their employees are and what they value and believe about their relationship with their employer. The majority of the higher education sector’s workforce comprises Generation X employees; yet, they are poorly understood and are the clear antithesis of their Baby Boomer predecessors who are steadily moving into retirement. The aim of this qualitative study was to ascertain what Generation X employees within a South African higher education institution value in an employment relationship, and what they believe the responsibility and obligations are of both the employer and the employee. Generation X employees (n = 10) were interviewed, as well as employees of the Baby Boomer (n = 4) and millennial (n = 4) generations, to compare and contrast their attitudes regarding the employment relationship. Results indicated, contrary to what previous studies had found elsewhere, that South African Generation X employees place great emphasis on values and ideology and expect to be able to align themselves with their employer in this regard. Much of this emphasis on values and ideology is predicated in the changing social dynamics within the country and a sincere intention to change the role the higher education sector plays in a developing country such as South Africa. Different cultural groups within Generation X do indeed value different aspects in their employment relationship, holding different expectations regarding the responsibilities and obligations between employer and employee. Recommendations for the higher education sector and future research were made.