Original Research

Retention of high-potential employees in a development finance company

Lishani Letchmiah, Adèle Thomas
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 15 | a924 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.924 | © 2017 Lishani Letchmiah, Adèle Thomas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 March 2017 | Published: 28 September 2017

About the author(s)

Lishani Letchmiah, Department of ​Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Adèle Thomas, Department of ​Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The loss of high-potential employees was a concern to leaders at a South African development finance company. The research question that guided the study was: How can high-potential employees be retained in the company?

Research purpose: The objective of the study was to identify factors that positively impact the retention of high-potential employees in a development finance company.

Motivation for the study: The organisation that comprised the unit of study had prioritised employee development to retain high-potential employees, thereby aiming to build a strong talent pipeline and a sustainable knowledge base. A prevalent concern was that there were no formal retention programmes for high-potential employees. Accordingly, organisational leaders could benefit from understanding those retention factors that may serve to retain such employees.

Research design, approach and method: A qualitative methodology promoted a deeper understanding of a social problem through a case study. Eleven purposefully chosen highpotential employees provided insights into factors they considered to be important in their retention. A content analysis of the data resulted in clusters of themes that addressed the research objective.

Main findings: The following factors appeared to influence the retention of high-potential employees: leadership and organisational culture, organisational purpose, developmental opportunities, meaningful work and collegiality.

Practical and managerial implications: Leaders in the company should consider factors that could influence the retention of high-potential employees. Such factors should be built into formal retention strategies based on the intrinsic needs of employees; the strengths that the organisational culture provides could be leveraged in this regard.

Contribution: The practical value of the study was the highlighting of the factors that can be leveraged to retain high-potential employees in a development finance company.


case study; development; leadership; organisational culture; qualitative study


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