Telone, formerly known as PTC is the pioneering and largest telecommunication company in Zimbabwe. Through the PTC Act it had been enjoying a monopoly until this was successfully challenged in Dec 1995 by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. The government of Zimbabwe then opened up the industry by licensing three mobile telecommunication networks namely Net One, Econet and Telecel.
Since inception in the early 1900s, Telone has been training all its telecoms engineers at the Telone training centre facility. Immediately after training the engineers would be deployed to man the various telecom exchanges throughout the country. With the massive investment in telecoms industry in the early 90’s, Telone was training on average 90 trainees per year who underwent the 2 year course. Upon completion the engineers would be bonded for a period of 2 years.
With the opening up of the telecommunications industry, Telone has been experiencing a high engineering staff turnover of as high as 50 per cent immediately after completion of the bonding period.
Background information on the issue:
The advent of competition in the form of licensed mobile networks on the one hand, and fixed telecoms companies operating under license soon depleted Telone’s stranglehold on market share.
The liberalisation of the industry opened up a lot of job opportunities for IT and Telecoms engineers. The competition’s strategy was to penetrate the industry as quickly as possible. To this end, they put together an attractive HR package. They then simply turned to Telone to poach their highly trained engineers.
In response, Telone seemed to keep training more and more engineering staff to replace the ones leaving. Even for a company as big as Telone, this type of strategy lacked sound Human Resources judgement as it was treating symptoms as opposed to solving the real problem.
Area needing Improvement:
Three main areas were identified through exit interviews. It emerged that the engineers were moving in search of: • Higher salaries offered by competition
• Exciting job content and challenge. The engineer job within Telone was seen as mostly reactive, repetitive and therefore monotonous. • Opportunities for promotion were slim as engineers felt that in Telone you could only work your way up to a certain point and get stuck.
Implications in the problem:
Engineering is seen as critical area for any IT and Telecommunication Company to succeed. The staff turnover has seen a loss of a lot of young and energetic key personnel as well as key engineers with many years of experience. This obviously strengthens the competition in terms of human resources. Telone’s competitive advantage will be weakened in the areas of service provisioning, service delivery and service assurance. And yet these are the areas that form the core processes, which have to be kept at a high standard for the company to be regarded as performing well.
Key objectives to consider:
To address these issues there is need to set objectives that are aimed at reducing staff turnover to less than 5 percent per year from the current 50 per cent.
Because the industry is characterised by rapid changes in technology, challenges are will always be available for engineers seeking a challenge. The threat of high mobility of labour in the industry will always be there. It will be prudent to factor in a percentage of staff turnover to be expected per year. This loss of staff is part of corporate life, and it’s not inherently unhealthy. What will be important will be to put in systems that will ensure that if staff choose to leave then they should leave for the right reasons.
For the problem areas identified, it is recommended that the following Human Resource Ares be addressed: • Human Resource Planning
• Recruitment and Selection
• Rewards and Job enrichment
• Human |Resources Development
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