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SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

On-line version ISSN 2071-0763
Print version ISSN 0258-5200


HOOLE, Crystal  and  HOTZ, Gabi. The impact of a total reward system of work engagement. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2016, vol.42, n.1, pp.1-14. ISSN 2071-0763.

ORIENTATION: Work engagement is critical for both employees and employers. With the reported downward spiral of engagement levels worldwide, organisations are recognising that in order to address this, attract best talent and keep employees motivated, they need to shift their attention to total reward strategies. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The overall purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between total rewards and work engagement in a South African context and to determine which reward categories predict work engagement. The study further endeavoured to determine whether gender and age had a moderating effect on the relationship between total rewards and engagement. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Statistics report that less than 30% of all working people are optimally engaged in their work. Considering that individuals spend more than a third of their lives at work committing themselves emotionally, physically and psychologically - research indicates that employees are no longer satisfied with traditional reward systems and want to feel valued and appreciated. RESEARCH APPROACH, DESIGN AND METHOD: In this quantitative, cross-sectional research design using a non-probability convenience and purposive sampling strategy, 318 questionnaires were collected and analysed from financial institutions in Gauteng in which opinions were sought on the importance of different types of rewards structures and preferences, and how engaged they are in their workplace. The 17-item UWES and Nienaber total reward preference model were the chosen measuring instruments. MAIN FINDINGS: A small statistically significant correlation (r = 0.25; p < 0.05; small effect) was found between total rewards and work engagement, and 12% of the variance of work engagement was explained. Only performance and career management significantly predicted work engagement. PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: Although small, the significant correlation between total rewards and work engagement implies that total rewards are important motivators for employees in the workplace. Of the total rewards scales tested, only performance and career management significantly predicted work engagement, suggesting that more research is needed. Organisations seeking to implement total reward strategies should pay specific attention to which strategies have an impact on work engagement. CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: Organisations must take cognisance that factors such as performance and career management significantly predicted work engagement and should be considered as part of their total reward offerings.

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