Motivating our people

Commitment, motivation and capability of our people, and their embracing of our values

Our ability to meet organisational objectives, deliver value to customers and clients, comply with regulatory obligations, and create shareholder value depends on our employees. We want to work with people who share our passion for Africa and who understand and embrace our view that diversity is not just about demographic characteristics, but about pan-Africanism, and who see the opportunities inherent in this approach.

Why this is important

Core to SBG’s success is ensuring that each of our 54 361 employees across the globe understands, buys into and are motivated by our purpose of driving Africa’s growth. In an industry with similar revenue opportunities, offerings, risks and regulatory challenges across different organisations, finding, keeping and developing the right employees is fundamental to our competitive advantage. Employees are the foundation of customer experience and our brand. They underpin our ability to deliver exceptional client experiences and superior value. The common threads that bind our diverse operations are our heritage, embedded values and clearly defined culture.

How we manage this area

We aim to create a workplace where performance is expected and rewarded. Given that our competitors are targeting the same opportunities as we are, competition for local skills is fierce, which requires that we offer our employees a clearly defined value proposition. We do so by embedding an organisational culture that encourages and rewards excellence and inspires individuals who are adaptable to growth and change. We also promote fair, consistent talent management practices that enable personal and career development. At senior level, our development programmes are tailored specifically to the needs of individuals.

Our refreshed group strategy clearly articulates the need to attract, develop and retain committed employees with a commercial mind set. Current and future trends, the rapid pace of digitalisation, and meeting the expectations of a multi-generational workforce influence how we shape our approach to employee and leadership development. Insights obtained from surveys held in 2014 across 17 countries have been used to inform our strategy and employee priorities for the short to medium term.

To ensure we have a pool of skilled employees, we have enhanced our talent management approach to be more consistent, integrated and led by business. In addition it is based on succession management (focused on critical roles and future capabilities) and targeted investment in the development and mobility of key talent. Employees have performance contracts, linked to commercial objectives, against which they are reviewed annually. Our level of voluntary turnover – an indicator of employee satisfaction – in 2015 remained healthy at 8.3% and below the international financial services benchmark of 13.9% (Corporate Executive Board benchmark: 2014).

We view diversity as broader than just race or gender – it is a strategic business advantage. The bringing together of people from diverse cultures with diverse skill sets, who think in different ways, facilitates the development of more creative and more comprehensive solutions to business challenges. Every business unit in South Africa has a Diversity and Transformation Forum which supports management in efforts to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace. In South Africa, we have introduced a ‘Lean-In’ initiative, facilitated by executive volunteers, which provides networking and coaching opportunities for female employees at middle management level.

Optimal employee health and wellness can positively impact productivity and performance. Proactively implementing a range of employee health and wellness programmes helps to assist our employees in delivering sustainable results. Against this backdrop, we have a robust health and wellness programme in place, which we manage in partnership with a range of external service providers. We have also implemented financial wellness programmes to help employees deal with money management and personal finances. As part of this programme, we have rolled out financial workshops across PBB. We are also implementing a proactive absence management programme. Going forward, we will use cost of sick leave as a percentage of CTC as the key metric to indicate progress. In 2015, this was 1.27%, which is below the South African financial sector norm of 1.7%.


We view diversity as broader than just race or gender – it is a strategic business advantage.

Opportunities and challenges


  • Upskill and reskill employees to ensure we meet future business demands, and provide opportunities for personal growth.
  • Strengthen our position as a leading investor in young talent, committed to developing future leaders.
  • Increase the hiring of local employees to drive our pan-African strategy, and deepen the skills base across our African operations.
  • Accelerate the development of black talent in South Africa, and ensure the effective implantation of SBSA’s EE plan. We will be developing a new plan in the course of 2016 as our current plan terminates at the end of the year.
  • Gathering employee insights to enhance their work experience.
  • Actively promote our existing engagement platforms, to ensure employees are empowered to express issues and concerns.


  • Rapidly changing business needs and a very competitive environment have increased demand for high levels of technical and leadership skills.
  • Attracting and retaining skilled and experienced managers in a highly competitive environment.
  • Preserving institutional knowledge and ensuring appropriate succession planning.
  • Maintaining positive employee morale in an environment of low economic growth in some of our countries of operation.
  • Enabling employees to appropriately manage the impacts of ongoing regulatory changes, while serving customers, meeting our commercial targets and managing risk.
  • Developing a better understanding among all employees regarding the appropriate use of social media, which respects their rights to personal opinion and freedom of expression, while also protecting SBG’s reputation.

Performance overview

Chart Chart Chart Table
1 The term ‘black’ means African, Coloured and Indian people who are South African citizens by birth or who became SA citizens by naturalisation prior to 27 April 1994.

Progress in 2015

  • We invested more than R865 million in developing employees in 2015 and assisted 594 employees with bursaries to further their studies.
  • We invested R22 million in 142 bursary recipients, helping these high-performing young students to build better and brighter futures in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
  • In line with our SBSA transformation strategy and objectives, 400 learners completed a learnership programme, and 92% were subsequently employed by Standard Bank. A further 567 young people were offered learnerships in 2015, which they will complete
    in 2016.
  • We provided 230 talented graduates participating in our graduate development programme with first-time work opportunities.
  • Over half of the appointments made in the group in 2015 were internal transfers and promotions, in line with our philosophy of promoting from within.
  • More than 2 900 (2014: 3 188) managers from across Africa participated in a range of management development programmes.
  • Effective succession planning enabled us to fill key roles seamlessly with the right people, ensuring smooth transition.
  • More than 4 000 temporary employees in South Africa were offered permanent positions in line with our commercial requirements and amendments to the Labour Relations Act.

Forward focus

  • Introduce an employee net promoter score to measure the purposeful engagement of employees.
  • Continue to improve our diversity profile at all levels, across all our operations.
  • Enhance our speed and agility to adapt to an ever changing world of work through a continued focus on learning and development.
  • Roll out a more comprehensive health service in our operations outside South Africa.
  • Conclude the roll-out of group-wide technology platforms that will simplify our human capital practices and enhance interaction with our clients.
  • Roll out our graduate development programme to graduates from key markets including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia.
  • Review and revise the Employment Equity plan for SBSA.
  • Implementation of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles.
  • Involve employees more in our innovation drive.


Report to Society


We welcome the views of our stakeholders on the way we approach our priorities.

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0860 123 000

+27 11 299 4701

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