Original Research

Influence of reward preferences in attracting, retaining, and motivating knowledge workers in South African information technology companies

Mark Bussin, Wernardt C. Toerien
Acta Commercii | Vol 15, No 1 | a290 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v15i1.290 | © 2015 Mark Bussin, Wernardt C. Toerien | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 October 2014 | Published: 27 July 2015

About the author(s)

Mark Bussin, Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Wernardt C. Toerien, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Purpose: The world of work is evolving and the nature of relationships between knowledge workers and their employers has changed distinctly, leading to a change in the type of rewards they prefer. The nature of these preferences in the South African, industry-specific context is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to deepen understanding of the reward preferences of Information technology (IT) knowledge workers in South Africa, specifically as these relate to the attraction, retention and motivation of knowledge workers.

Design: The research design included a quantitative, empirical and descriptive study of reward preferences, measured with a self-administered survey and analysed using non-parametric tests for variance between dependent and independent groups and non-parametric analysis of variance.

Findings: This study found that there are specific reward preferences in knowledge workers in the IT sector in South Africa and that these preferences apply differently when related to the attraction, retention and motivation of employees. It identified the most important reward components in the competition for knowledge workers and also demonstrated that demographic characteristics play a statistically significant role in determining reward preferences.

Practical implications: The study’s findings show that a holistic approach to total rewards is required, failing which, companies will find themselves facing increased turnover and jobhopping. Importantly, the study also highlights that different rewards need to form part of knowledge workers’ relationship with their employer in three different scenarios: attraction, retention and motivation.


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