Companies are offering big bonuses to keep skills in South Africa – and to get workers back to the office

 ·15 Jul 2022

South African companies are offering larger annual bonuses and other incentives to keep hold of skilled workers during the ‘great resignation’.

It has become apparent to employers, that to retain valuable employees, companies would need to incentivise the staff, to not only stay with the company but stay motivated to work, says Shargani Pillay, remuneration and benefits manager at tobacco company JTI.

Speaking at a recent Xpatweb conference, Pillay highlighted her company’s initiative to provide a monetary subsidy to each employee, to allow them to purchase products that would make their life easier at home. She added that workers were specifically encouraged to purchase power inverters to keep laptops and other electronics on during load shedding.

Another attendee said that they were providing larger annual bonuses, to incentivise their staff not only to retain them but have them return to the office.

Executives indicated that they have also changed their stance on online meetings and daily check-ins and remote working becomes more commonplace.  One attendant spoke about her own initiatives, and how their company hosted a few sessions per week, where staff were gathered in an online meeting, to take part in stand-ups and stretch exercises, as well as yoga sessions.

Other executives said weekly telephonic check-ins were conducted to ensure that the employees’ personal interaction needs were accommodated for. Surprisingly, the staff engaged more and shared more about themselves in these sessions, compared to the “pre-Covid” stand ups and watercooler talk usually found around the office.

New demands 

Johan Botes, partner and head of the Employment & Compensation Practice at Baker McKenzie Johannesburg, noted that workers are coming back to the office  – but have demands.

Many businesses are keen to see employees returning to the workplace, with a large number (especially in the professional and business services industries) sensing an opportunity to attract and retain sought-after talent by redefining their post-pandemic workplace policies, he said.

However, a large number of employees are less than keen to face the daily commute and canteen food after two years of the great flexibility remote working offers to them, with many resisting the urge to give up their work from home status.

While workplace flexibility has become a key negotiation point in employment contracts, the modern workforce also increasingly demands that their employers’ activities match their own personal ideals. This includes that the business operates in a sustainable way and provides benefits for the environment, local economies and the surrounding communities.

Read: A top banking CEO has sent a stern warning to South Africa

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