Original Research

The engagement and retention of non-profit employees in Belgium and South Africa

Michelle Renard, Robin J. Snelgar
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a795 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v14i1.795 | © 2016 Michelle Renard, Robin J. Snelgar | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 February 2016 | Published: 21 November 2016

About the author(s)

Michelle Renard, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Robin J. Snelgar, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


Orientation: A lack of qualitative research exists that investigates work engagement and retention within Belgium and South Africa, particularly within the non-profit sector.

Research purpose: The study aimed to gather in-depth qualitative data pertaining to the factors that promote work engagement and retention amongst non-profit employees working within these two countries.

Motivation for the study: Because of scarce funding and resources, non-profit organisations are pressured to retain their talented employees, with high levels of turnover being a standard for low-paid, human-service positions. However, when individuals are engaged in their work, they display lower turnover intentions, suggesting the importance of work engagement in relation to retention.

Research design, approach and method: Non-probability purposive and convenience sampling was used to organise in-depth interviews with 25 paid non-profit employees working on either a full-time or a part-time basis within Belgium and South Africa. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data produced.

Main findings: Participants were found to be absorbed in, dedicated to and energised by their work, and revealed numerous aspects promoting their retention including working towards a purpose, finding fulfilment in their tasks and working in a caring environment.

Practical/managerial implications: Non-profit organisations should develop positive work environments for their employees to sustain their levels of work engagement, as well as place significance on intrinsic rewards in order to retain employees.

Contribution: This study provides insights into the means by which non-profit employees across two nations demonstrate their enthusiasm, pride and involvement in the work that they perform. It moreover sheds light on the factors contributing to such employees intending to leave or stay within the employment of their organisations.


work engagement; retention; non-profit sector


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