Understanding the factors influencing health-worker employment decisions in South Africa

Human Resources for Health (Impact Factor: 1.83). 04/2013; 11(1):15. DOI: 10.1186/1478-4491-11-15
Source: PubMed


The provision of health care in South Africa has been compromised by the loss of trained health workers (HWs) over the past 20 years. The public-sector workforce is overburdened. There is a large disparity in service levels and workloads between the private and public sectors. There is little knowledge about the nonfinancial factors that influence HWs choice of employer (public, private or nongovernmental organization) or their choice of work location (urban, rural or overseas). This area is under-researched and this paper aims to fill these gaps in the literature.

The study utilized cross-sectional survey data gathered in 2009 in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The HWs sample came from three public hospitals (n = 430), two private hospitals (n = 131) and one nongovernmental organization (NGO) hospital (n = 133) in urban areas, and consisted of professional nurses, staff nurses and nursing assistants.

HWs in the public sector reported the poorest working conditions, as indicated by participants’ self-reports on stress, workloads, levels of remuneration, standard of work premises, level of human resources and frequency of in-service training. Interesting, however, HWs in the NGO sector expressed a greater desire than those in the public and private sectors to leave their current employer.

To minimize attrition from the overburdened public-sector workforce and the negative effects of the overall shortage of HWs, innovative efforts are required to address the causes of HWs dissatisfaction and to further identify the nonfinancial factors that influence work choices of HWs. The results highlight the importance of considering a broad range of nonfinancial incentives that encourage HWs to remain in the already overburdened public sector.

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    • "Further, data indicate that these strategies are not considered satisfactory or well understood by many health workers. These findings, consistent with other research on retention of health workers (HWs) [17,18], indicate the need for continued research to better understand the broad range of factors that contribute to HW motivation and retention, and the differing degrees to which different incentives influence their motivation and job satisfaction. Examples of research contibuting to this area include a recent study on HW motivation in rural health facilities in Zambia [19] which showed that gender, profession, type of training, and time in post each influence health workers’ motivation. "
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    ABSTRACT: In response to Zambia's critical human resources for health challenges, a number of strategies have been implemented to recruit and retain health workers in rural and remote areas. Prior to this study, the effectiveness of these strategies had not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine the impacts of the various health worker retention strategies on health workers in two rural districts of Zambia. Using a modified outcome mapping approach, cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative data were collected from health workers and other stakeholders through focus group discussions and individual interview questionnaires and were supplemented by administrative data. Key themes emerging from qualitative data were identified from transcripts using thematic analysis. Quantitative data were analyzed descriptively as well as by regression modelling. In the latter, the degree to which variation in health workers' self-reported job satisfaction, likelihood of leaving, and frequency of considering leaving, were modelled as functions of participation in each of several retention strategies while controlling for age, gender, profession, and district. Nineteen health worker recruitment and retention strategies were identified and 45 health care workers interviewed in the two districts; participation in each strategy varied from 0% to 80% of study participants. Although a salary top-up for health workers in rural areas was identified as the most effective incentive, almost none of the recruitment and retention strategies were significant predictors of health workers' job satisfaction, likelihood of leaving, or frequency of considering leaving, which were in large part explained by individual characteristics such as age, gender, and profession. These quantitative findings were consistent with the qualitative data, which indicated that existing strategies fail to address major problems identified by health workers in these districts, such as poor living and working conditions. Although somewhat limited by a small sample size and the cross-sectional nature of the primary data available, the results nonetheless show that the many health worker recruitment and retention strategies implemented in rural Zambia appear to have little or no impact on keeping health workers in rural areas, and highlight key issues for future recruitment and retention efforts.
    Human Resources for Health 05/2014; 12(Suppl 1). DOI:10.1186/1478-4491-12-S1-S1 · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    • "Instead, HWs decision to consider moving is largely influenced by their age, their level of stress at work and the extent to which they feel happy in their current job. Public sector HWs are particularly susceptible to migration due a number of challenges which this and other studies have found [40]. Reasons for the desire to move out of the public sector and into the private sector or abroad revolve around both push and pull factors. "
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    ABSTRACT: The loss of human resource capacity has had a severe impact on the health system in South Africa. This study investigates the causes of migration focussing on the role of salaries and benefits. Health professionals from public, private and non-governmental (NGO) health facilities located in selected peri--urban and urban areas in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were surveyed about their current positions and attitudes toward migration. The study uses cross-sectional data collected in 2009. A total of 694 health professionals (430 in the public sector, 133 in the NGO sector and 131 in the private sector) were surveyed. An additional 11 health professionals were purposively selected for in-depth interviews. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to determine whether salaries influenced HWs decisions to migrate. HWs decision to move was not positively associated with lower salaries. It was found, instead, that the consideration to move was determined by other factors including age, levels of stress experienced and the extent to which they were satisfied at their current place of work. The OSD appears to have lowered the risk of HWs migrating due to low salaries. However, the results also indicate that the South African Department of Health needs to improve working conditions for HWs within the public health sector to assist in retention.
    BMC Health Services Research 08/2013; 13(1):297. DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-13-297 · 1.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orientation: The orientation of this study is towards authentic leadership (AL) and its influence on optimism, trust in the organisation and work engagement of employees in the public health care sector. Research purpose: The objectives of this study were to determine whether the leadership style of AL could predict optimism, trust in the organisation and work engagement amongst a large sample of employees from various functions in public hospitals and clinics in Gauteng and to establish whether optimism and trust in the organisation could mediate the relationship between AL and work engagement. Research approach, design and method: A convenience sample of 633 public health employees from various functions within 27 public hospitals and clinics in the province was used in this research. A cross-sectional research design was implemented. Structural equation modelling was utilised to investigate the Authentic Leadership Inventory (ALI), and the validity and fit of the measurement model, to position AL as a job resource within the nomological net and to test its mediating effects. Main findings: The statistical analysis revealed that AL was a significant predictor of optimism and trust in the organisation and that optimism and trust in the organisation mediated the relationship between AL and work engagement. Practical/managerial implications: The research results suggested that organisations in the public health care sector should encourage their managers to adopt a more authentic leadership style. This will lead to higher levels of optimism, trust in the organisation and eventually work engagement. This will greatly assist employees in the domain of public health care to manage their demanding working environment. Contribution: This study provides evidence that the ALI can be used reliably within the South African context and specifically within the public health care sector. It further substantiates for the implementation of AL as a leadership style in the South African public health care sector, supporting work that has been done internationally in health care where AL has been associated with a number of positive outcomes. Finally, the study puts forward two practical suggestions, on both an individual and an organisational level, to facilitate a culture in which AL can be translated more effectively into an engaged workforce.
    SA Journal of Human Resource Management 06/2015; 13(1). DOI:10.4102/sajhrm.v13i1.675
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