Why South African professionals are leaving their jobs

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Recruitment specialist Robert Walters Group says that as many as two out of three South African professionals are ‘highly likely’ to leave their job this year due to a lack of face time with leaders within their company.

The Robert Walters annual employee survey of 4,000 white-collar professionals across South Africa found that remote managers negatively impact company culture, with 60% of professionals reporting feeling ‘disengaged’ due to lack of face time with their bosses, or line managers.

Following news that president Cyril Ramaphosa would like to bring South Africa’s national state of disaster to a close next month, an annual employee survey from recruiter Robert Walters highlighted the potential damage of upholding remote leadership in 2022.

“Results from the survey indicate a correlation between a decrease in performance and morale for professionals who claim they see their manager (face-to-face) less than once a week,” the talent management firm said. “Both performance and morale steadily increased for professionals who spent more days in the office with their manager,” it said.

The ‘wrong kind’ of autonomy

Nearly half (48%) of professionals in the survey stated that fewer meetings and less interaction with their manager has led to a dip in their output.

When asked how often professionals speak to their line manager when working from home, 22% stated that they “don’t really communicate with a manager when working from home” – up from just 3% who stated the same at the beginning of the pandemic.

Robert Walters said that a third of managers have permanently adopted a new management style post-Covid, in favour of holding catch-ups with their staff over the phone or via video call – rather than in person.

Many professionals believe that this increasing lack of contact with their line manager has resulted in them being overlooked for new opportunities (44%), progression (37%), and training (26%).

Samantha- Jane Gravett, associate director for Robert Walters – Africa, said: “As the concrete solidifies on hybrid working schemes, the long-term impact of remote leadership is yet to be assessed, but it cannot be ignored.

“Professionals striving for progression want to show initiative, adaptability, and the ability to handle responsibility by themselves – and so by nature, they won’t necessarily ask for more face time with their manager as they feel it works against the point they are trying to prove.

“Outside of effective delegation and general team management, a line manager must act as a leader – guiding and supporting each individual and helping to finesse and bring out star qualities and skills.

“This leadership skill is not simply an ‘add-on’ to a line manager’s duty but critical – and central to that is high levels of engagement, face time, and shadowing. Businesses must understand that if they are to have a solid future talent pipeline they should take a look at the current management style of their leadership team and make adjustments to ensure there is face-to-face interaction, where possible.”

Face to face interaction and new employees

The survey found that 62% of professionals would be ‘put off’ a new job offer not delivered in person (F2F or video call) – with a generic email (57%), voice call (33%), or a voicemail being the leading approaches that would put prospective candidates off.

Over three quarters (77%) of professionals believe that prospective line managers should be the one presenting a job offer to a candidate – rather than HR – with a further 45% stating that it is important that they are invited to a team lunch or social within the first week of starting their new job.

“Job satisfaction takes many forms, but these survey results highlight how companies need to be acutely aware of the potentially negative effects of impersonal processes for hiring or managing employees,” Gravett said.

“Where in many instances technology and the virtual world can aid proficiency, it is no replacement for human interaction when trying to engage a prospective employee or onboard a new hire.”


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