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Release date: 22 March 2013


South African employees would rather work less hours than earn higher remuneration. Jobs that are closer to home also require less remuneration. These are the findings of an online-panel survey of 345 South Africans in the metro areas, conducted by Acentric Marketing Research, in September 2012. The survey had a +-5.3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.

Employees were shown a scientifically selected set of job offers, which varied in terms of work hours, travel time to work and pay relative to their current levels of pay. They were asked to indicate their level of interest in each offer.

“The results showed that, on average, shorter work hours were more attractive than an equivalent increase in salary. This applies in a single ‘monadic’ job offer scenario, the dynamics become more complex in different job-offer contexts. Interestingly, reduced travel time to work has a similar effect to increased salary.” says Craig Kolb, spokesperson for Acentric.

“While as a general rule it could be said that employees prefer shorter hours to an equivalent increase in salary, the effect does vary by age. The is most pronounced amongst the youngest group below 25 years, who really prefer time over money. However, when you get to employees in the 25 to 34 year range, things change and salary is valued almost as much as time. When you move to the oldest bracket above 50 years, the pattern reverses again – time being valued relatively more than money. However in an absolute sense, the oldest group places more value on money than the youngest group.” says Kolb.

A substantial number – approximately 28% of employees – are forecast to resign over the period October 2012 to September 2013 according to Acentric, and so it is important to identify the resignation drivers within each organisation. While a fixed percentage will resign anyway, due to a wide variety of ‘on the job’ and ‘personal factors’ measured in the survey – such as lack of trust and poor communication – some may be actively poached by head hunters.

Pre-existing intentions to resign seem to have little to do with responsiveness to unsolicited offers. “Employees who were not currently interested in looking for alternative employment were just as responsive to the new job offers as those who were already intending to leave. However, those who were more engaged ‘emotionally’ to the company were slightly less likely to respond to an offer.” stated Kolb.

Engagement also has other benefits. For example, engagement improves employee perceptions of company performance. “A significant relationship was found between engagement and perceived sales performance, perceptions of customer service quality, how honest employees were with customers and sales-growth perceptions. Keeping this in mind, it is important to point out that older employees tend to be more engaged on average than younger employees.” says Kolb.

Brand equity is another factor to consider. “A weak brand tends to increase resignation intentions slightly. Companies with strong brands are more likely to retain employees.” says Kolb.

Technical note: Survey conducted using an ISO certified online-panel. Post-weighting applied to improve non-response bias as per ANES standard.