September 2004 was a significant moment in South Africa’s political history as 486 councillors ‘crossed the floor’ to opposing parties. Not particularly sure on how to curb future crossings, the political parties concerned have opted to fine councillors crossing the floor in upcoming seasons. Behold, the political world, in South Africa at least, has realised the pain of losing talent. And so, councillors are charged between 2% and 5% of their salaries for election costs and are being made to sign contracts that state they’ll have to repay up to R500, 000 if they cross the floor. Yes, it is a common clause in study agreements, but recovering the recruitment costs from the incumbent is a sure way of chasing talent away. Finweek, 2nd February.
As we watch society for shifts that will affect the way business is run, this is a liminal event in the course of South African retention strategies – the option of threatening the employee with exorbitant costs for “disloyalty”. It is widely known that the costs of replacing your better employees can amount to nearly 3 times their annual salaries. Opting for such a retention stratgey will surely prevent these talented employees from even getting out of their cars at the 1st interview. It is better telling a Gen Xer not to touch wet paint! It is doomed to fail.

But then there are retention strategies that are a lot more indirect and underhanded. Of the 5 talented employees I’ve connected with in the last week, 3 are struggling with a decision to move to another company. What’s making their decisions so difficult? Golden handcuffs. Share options that are lucrative enough to keep the “loyal” employee loyal and productive long enough until the share price ditches.
I fear our political atmosphere raised above will result in one of two scenarios:
1 – we will be left with luke-warm politicans who are too scared to make the right move for fear of the finacnial impact (as it is true of many talented employees who suffer from talent atrophy because they fail to leave the golden handcuffs behind them), or
2- talented politicians will avert themselves of the desire to be involved in politics. Instead they will dedicate themselves to causes which allow them to use their gifts of leadership and reform in ways that will free their spirits (as much as talented employees have dedicated themselves to volunteer organisations because organisations do not know how to invite and develop supreme talent). Oh, how we need decent politicains! Well, thanks to the steadfast leaders of the ANC, DA, IVP, FF Plus, ID, ACDP, PAC, UDM and NADECO the political atmosphere in South Africa becomes a minefield for talent.

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