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By Simonetta Giuricich, Chief Operating Officer for Playroll

A key focus of any HR department is retaining key skills. A big part of this involves building an appealing and enabling company culture that attracts top people and keeps them in the organisation. But while investment into organisational culture undoubtedly helps to build a company’s reputation as an employer of choice, and may also help to reduce general employee churn, many of South Africa’s key skills are not being lost because of unhappiness with workplace culture, but rather because the employees, managers and executives who possess those skills have simply made the decision to leave the country.

This makes it imperative for HR executives to start thinking very differently about the way they are pursuing their retention targets. Of course, that’s not to say that building a compelling organisational culture is not a worthwhile undertaking. Considering that it plays a key role in attracting and retaining the vast majority of staff, culture should be a top priority. But when culture is not enough to retain key people with vital skills, alternative methods have to be employed. 

And one of those methods, that is rapidly gaining traction with leading organisations across the globe, is partnering with an employer of record. Essentially, an employer of record (EoR) is a third-party organisation that assumes legal responsibility for employing staff on behalf of another company or organisation. That means the EoR acts as the official employer of the individual, while the client company retains management control over that person. This presents numerous advantages for an organisation, not least the ability to retain the skills of its key people, even when they move to another country.

An EoR partnership also delivers many benefits for HR departments, particularly in terms of helping them achieve their talent recruitment and retention KPIs. The steadily increasing skills gaps make it difficult for businesses to attract the talent they need to replace key people who leave the organisation.

HR directors also need to drive business continuity in a way that ensures skills transfer and employment equity. The departure of a key employee poses a direct threat to achieving that objective, because they effectively take their intellectual property, experience, training and capabilities with them. What’s more, if that person is key to a business-critical project or initiative at the time of their departure, the risk to the business can be immense

Often, finding the ideal candidate to replace a key individual is a lengthy and very expensive process. In most cases, even if an organisation can recruit a person with the right skill set, the fit is seldom perfect, which means the appointed individual needs to undergo extensive training and up-skilling and take time to familiarise themselves with the organisation and their new role. In all likelihood, the recruit will operate at sub-optimal productivity levels throughout this period of acclimatisation, which is a further indirect cost to the company.

A partnership with an EoR is an uncomplicated, time- and cost-effective solution to these challenges, because it effectively means that the businesses don’t need to lose the skills of their key people to emigration in the first place.

Given these benefits, it’s unsurprising that EoR partnerships are being leveraged by growing numbers of forward-thinking organisations that recognise the value of a well-distributed workplace in multiple countries. And South African businesses are quickly following suit.

Of course, an EoR partnership is not just useful for skills retention; it’s also a highly effective way of expanding business operations into new markets and geographies, without having to go through the process of recruiting talent directly from that location. Instead, an employee with the necessary business knowledge and proven skills can be placed in the target location through the EoR, and immediately get to work expanding operations in that market, potentially while also mentoring and upskilling local talent to eventually take over when they return to South Africa.

Another significant, yet often overlooked, benefit of partnering with an EoR is the message that this sends to staff. Allowing key staff to benefit from an EoR emphasises that you are a genuinely employee-first organisation. One that doesn’t just pay lip service to its employees being its biggest asset but is willing to invest in retaining its people. This can add significant reputational value and enhance the organisation’s standing within the employee market.

Ultimately, a comprehensive EoR solution, like that offered by Playroll, offers a plethora of advantages for any HR department that is serious about leveraging the full potential of the so-called ‘new ways of working’ for the benefit of the entire organisation.

Read more here – South Africa’s Brain Drain: Turning the Page to Fresh Conversation for HR Leaders

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