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Is true employee engagement possible?

Kim Lombard
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This is part 1 in three-part series

Given the recent protracted platinum mining industry strikes, is there any possibility that you can find a way to balance the needs and wants of both the employer and the employee? I believe that there is a way and it's found in honest and authentic discussions and dialogue with all stakeholders – not merely by using employee engagement - to find the common ground in the form of principles and beliefs which will underpin the way the company gives each and every single employee rewards (through a comprehensive reward philosophy and strategy).

There is a multitude of stakeholders (shareholders, management, employees and unions) who have related needs (financial performance, the ability to attract and retain the right skills so that earnings can be optimised and a perpetual increase in the cost of living can be coped with). In the midst of trying to balance the needs and wants of all the stakeholders, legislators are constantly creating laws to regulate remuneration and employee rewards, as well as to align practices to the changes in the country.

In general, it seems as if the current employment environment seems to divide parties and stakeholders rather than create harmony. It's characterised by the trade unions making certain demands, the employers placing 'their stake in the ground', specialists who seek recognition for their contribution and worth, while the average employee is stuck in the middle affected by all the influences and financial impacts around them caused by these differing wants and needs.

A way to draw all these invested parties closer together has to be found in a total reward approach depicted below and underpinned by shared principles and beliefs.

What is a total reward approach?


















A 'total reward approach' takes into account all aspects of the reward environment – both financial and non-financial – to create an attractive environment for employees who feel valued, can meet their employment needs (e.g. financial, career or job security) and who in return assist the organisation to achieve their needs or business objectives.

The starting block for this total reward approach is a reward philosophy, which consists of a set of beliefs that:

  • Underpin the reward strategy of the organisation,
  • Govern reward policy, and
  • Provide the foundation for the guiding principles which determine how the reward processes operate.

While the reward strategy and programmes can change, the philosophy - like any organisation's value system - is longer lasting.

In the next instalment of this series, I will look at examples of how you can implement a total rewards strategy in your company.


Kim Lombard is a co-owner of Synntech People Solutions and is an experienced HR and reward consultant. She holds degrees in industrial and clinical psychology and is a certified Global Reward Professional. Kim has over 18 years' experience across a broad range of business functions within both local and international organisations in the banking, project engineering, construction, manufacturing and human capital industries. Kim has experience in all aspects of the HR, remuneration and reward environment concerning the creation of reward philosophies and strategies, employee value propositions, sales commission schemes, cost-to-company conversions, pay scale development, market positioning, HR business support, creation of HR policies and structure, recruitment as well as people development.



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