Fostering a conducive working environment

We understand that the physical and emotional well-being of employees impacts on job satisfaction and performance. Creating a comfortable and conducive working environment can help reduce turnover and absenteeism, and the associated costs. In addition, engaging our employees as internal stakeholders is a basic requirement of good governance. We consider a pleasant and productive working environment part of our competitive advantage, and it is why we are considered an employer of choice.

Our approach and actions

Sanlam employees begin their tenure with us by attending the Sanlam Group Orientation Programme, and after six months the same group meets with Group CEO, Johan van Zyl, where they can ask any questions and share their experiences of Sanlam with their colleagues. There are also orientation programmes at the business unit level so that staff are familiarised with their specific business.

Sanlam offers a very comprehensive range of benefits in the form of retirement funds, medical aid and group life cover. In addition, we offer a host of other benefits: an employee assistance programme (EAP) for all employees and immediate family countrywide; shops and conveniences at our head office; access to loyalty programme discounts; and focused wellness interventions.

The Sanlam workplace is a non-unionised environment, where consultation between the workforce and organisation is facilitated through various formal and informal mechanisms. Disciplinary and grievance procedures are communicated to all employees via the intranet. We do not keep official statistics on CCMA hearings as this is not seen as a significant risk as the incidence is few.

Sanlam has procedures and systems in place in relation to dishonesty, corruption or unethical behaviour. We have a zero tolerance approach to corruption and unethical behaviour, but happily we are rarely called upon to discipline in such matters.  

Staff interaction and engagement tends to be decentralised, but certain Group-wide issues are communicated centrally, including via the following:
  • Our Sandaba internal newspaper (lauded as one of the Top Five Corporate Publications of 2009 in the SA Publication Forum awards)
  • Monthly Headway communication from the Group Chief Executive
  • Executive management feedback sessions
  • Communiqués from the Group Chief Executive
  • The Sanlam intranet site
  • Employee satisfaction / climate surveys


Our performance

Sanlam’s 2009 staff turnover figures were down on previous years. This was due to the completion of a round of restructuring in particular business units, measures that we instituted to retain staff, and the general economic environment. The voluntary versus involuntary turnover figures for our office staff were very similar, indicating a downward trend in voluntary turnover. The main reason for voluntary turnover remained better career opportunities.


Case study 1: The Sanlam Personal Finance ‘Activator Awards’ programme

Sanlam Personal Finance’s Activator Awards programme was established in 2006 and aims to foster a culture of recognition across the business unit based on the Sanlam values. The programme has five Award categories namely SPF CEO Award, Energizer, Nurturer, Innovator and Inspirer. The SPF CEO Award, Energizer and Nurturer categories are nomination programmes of which the most prestigious is the SPF CEO Award. Prize money ranges from R2,500 for quarterly winners and R30,000 for annual winners of the Energizer and Nurturer Awards to R60,000 for the CEO Award. The Innovator award, which is an innovation ideas bank, offers rewards from R50 through to R30,000 for the annual winner. The Inspirer Award affords all employees an opportunity to participate on an ongoing basis by sending recognition messages and allocating rewards. Employees are allocated R50 per month which they can use to nominate any peer in any of the Sanlam Personal Finance business units. Managers also allocated R50 per employee per month, which they can assign to their team or any other employee within Sanlam Personal Finance. Utilisation of this peer-to-peer and management recognition category was in the region of 80% to 90% during 2009.

During 2009 Sanlam Personal Finance used a specific communication and awareness campaign to promote the different award categories, the values they support, and the benefits that staff can derive through participation in the programme. As part of this process a poster was developed per Award category and each poster was ‘launched’ on a set date. The ‘launch’ of the poster was coupled with a communication to all staff, containing information about the particular award category as well as a competition in the form of a scratch-card.


Case study 2: Sanlam’s Life@work programme

Implemented in 2007, Sanlam’s Life@work programme aims to foster a more conducive working environment and to assist staff with their work-life balance. The programme has three components, namely Finance@work, Wellbeing@work and Convenience@work.  

  • Finance@work
This programme aims to improve employees’ understanding and personal management of their finances.

During the year, regular financial features were placed in Sanlam’s online staff newsletter, the eDaba, and updates were placed in the Journey to Financial Fitness e-Library. The purpose of the e-library is to create a database of information which staff can access to improve their financial health & well-being.

Sanlam HR partnered with the Distribution business unit to offer short and focussed education sessions to staff in Topaz. Focus was placed on budgeting, savings and managing debt.  These sessions were offered as an add-on to existing staff/team meetings and hence large groups were reached with relative ease. Approximately 35 sessions were facilitated and more than two thirds of all Topaz staff (about 900) were reached through these sessions. The budget calculator, developed for SanlamConnect was made available to each of the employee, because the key message was “The first step towards financial freedom is budgeting”. Due to the success of this process, we will continue with the second phase in 2010 by focussing on retirement planning, risk planning and wills/trusts.  

  • Wellbeing@work
As the name suggests, this programme aims to improve employees’ wellbeing through a range of fitness and health-related offerings.
Regular health and wellbeing features were placed on eDaba, with updates in the Journey to Wellbeing e-Library. The purpose of the e-library is to create a database of information which staff can access to improve their general physical health & well-being.

An on-site mobile therapist from Fox Fitness and Leisure was accommodated in the Training Centre to make it easily accessible for staff to have short treatments done. Shorter treatments at reduced prices were offered. Very positive feedback was received in this regard.

  • Convenience@work
As the name suggests, this programme aims to make like easier for Sanlam head office employees by ensuring that a range of facilities and conveniences are within easy reach for all employees.

The Sanlam eMall, in partnership with Reality, continued to give staff many discounted offers and opportunities to win prizes through the numerous competitions that were offered.

As from August 2009, staff could use their employee access cards to purchase from outlets, such as OK MiniMarket and the Hairdresser in the Mall@work at Head Office.

From November 2009 regional staff in Hyde Park could use their employee access cards to purchase from Fedics, allowing them a pre-tax benefit on numerous items.