The recent Compensation and Benefits Report, published by the Top Employers Institute, shows that Top Employers in South Africa are increasingly offering employees more benefits and non-financial rewards.

New research shows that Top Employers in South Africa are stepping up their game when it comes to offering attractive packages to employees – with a bigger choice of non-financial benefits and rewards spicing up traditional financial remuneration.

The recent Compensation and Benefits Report, released by the Top Employers Institute in October 2015 shows a clear trend towards

a Total Rewards philosophy, in which employees are invited to pick benefits as if from a buffet in a cafeteria – leading to this trend being called the “cafeteria plan”.

The cafeteria plan-style approach reveals the importance that these organisations are attaching to rewarding employees in addition to salaries. The report shows that 82% of certified Top Employers South Africa 2015 have a specific compensation and benefits policy for different job roles, indicating more differentiation in compensation.

What we are seeing is a shift from mere monetary compensation towards a more individual and holistic approach for employees,” says Billy Elliott, Top Employers Institute Country Manager for South Africa.

The Top Employers Institute is based in the Netherlands and globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people. It has recognised Top Employers around the world since 1991 including many stalwarts in South Africa.

The research contained in the Compensation and Benefits Report is supported by insights from the global HR Best Practices Survey, which is based on data from a sample of 600 certified Top Employers in 96 countries across the globe, including South Africa.

CEO David Plink says while salary is still very important, “non-monetary elements like flexible hours, catering to changing life-stage, learning and development, and recognition have become decisive factors in job offers and employee retention. The recent growth in importance suggests it is an irreversible trend.”

According to Mannfred Koch from AbbVie, a certified Top Employer 2015, employees can work wherever and whenever they want (within a given, very flexible framework). “We train people to get an understanding of the times when they are most productive. It may be better for some to start early or late, or do some work in the evenings at home,” he says.   

This means a fundamental change in how HR is designing compensation and benefit policies to attract and retain talent. “The shift towards ensuring employees are motivated to stay with their company is no longer an HR administrative task but rather a crucial part of HR strategy,” says Elliott.

Apart from salary, South African Top Employers also include the following elements within their annual total rewards statement to employees: profit sharing (29%), long-term incentives (57%), and secondary benefits (61%), etc. It also involves a more
individual and holistic approach of compensating employees, which takes into account an individual’s needs and requirements.

James Hu, HR Unilever Future Leader, says: “Unilever is committed to developing every employee to be the best they can be and this means assessing people on their potential as well as performance.” The emphasis on performance essentially drives the cafeteria approach as it allows employers to differentiate between employees and reward them accordingly.

The Compensation and Benefits report shows that salary increases based on performance are happening among 96% of participants globally, comparing well with the 97% in South Africa. Other interesting details from the report show that there are greater rewards for people with specialist skills due to global skill shortages, opening up new opportunities for global horizontal careers instead of moving up corporate ranks vertically within the same company.

The report illustrates that Top Employers in South Africa are increasingly recognising the benefits of offering non-financial rewards along with the more traditional salary packages.

Elliott says: “What we are seeing more and more of now, is the way in which companies are seeking to improve an employee’s non-financial benefits and rewards at work, which leads to happier employees.”


The Top Employers Institute globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people. It has recognised Top Employers around the world since 1991. Register for a free copy of the Compensation and Benefit Report:



Issued by: Rothko PR on behalf of the Top Employers Institute

Contact details: Jehan Bedford, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 021 448 9457