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Staff reflect on their employee experience

- Wits University

International Workers Day, celebrated annually on 1 May, is an opportunity for employees and employers alike to reflect on the workplace.

Healthy conversations and transparency contribute to job satisfaction and employee wellbeing.  

Wits Communications invited a few employees to share what their workplace journeys and how the University could improve their employee experience. 

Emmah Mthembu, Office Administrator, Wits Professional Development Hub


Emmah Mthembu, Office Assistant, Professional Development Hub

Prior to joining Wits I was an intern offering IT End-User Support at the Department of Social Development in Nkangala District (I am an IT graduate). I joined Wits University in 2017 as a bus marshal for the inter-campus and hospital buses managed by the Transport Division in Services. In 2023 I moved from this position to the Wits Professional Development Hub where I currently work as an Office Assistant.

Things that I love about Wits

Wits provides bursaries for staff members and their dependants, it’s 100% in tuition fees if they are studying at Wits and 75% if it’s with another institution. I am very much grateful for this benefit as I am currently studying law at the University of Johannesburg. Wits also gives sufficient exam leaves days to employees who are studying, 20 days every year, three days per exam. There are also many programmes offered by the Human Resources Development Unit to up skill employees.

During COVID-19 Wits paid employees full salaries while many industries and people did not have the same fortune.

The culture at Wits is very professional and efficient; staff members are from diverse parts of the world adding to a dynamic work environment.

Areas of improvement

I think Wits can improve by meeting employees halfway by paying 50% for medical aid and by also contributing about 25% towards the employee’s 13th cheque. I do also believe Wits should have refresher courses every year for managers or for every person who has subordinates.

Rijav Maharaj, Lecture in the School of Statistics and Actuarial Science


Rivaj Maharaj, an Actuary and Lecturer, School of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Prior to Wits, I worked in industry for a few years as well as lectured at another tertiary institution. I enjoy the culture and work flexibility that’s in academia. I also have a supportive manager (HOS). I enjoy the lecturing and interaction with the students. There is satisfaction when the students graduate as I was a part of their journey from the beginning to the end.

Areas of improvement

Fix that which is not working. For example, the entry and exit into and out of campus. This creates unnecessary stress and time pressure. That time could be used more efficiently elsewhere.

The staff of the University are its biggest asset. All should be well taken care off. When staff are well taken care off, no one would want to leave due to unhappiness.

*Wits University is looking to revitalise it’s culture as it moves into the next decade and beyond. In the coming months Wits University will conduct a comprehensive culture study on the perspectives of multiple publics, both internally and externally. Staff, students and alumni will have an opportunity to share their views on a range of topics.

Sinegugu Khulu, Senior Technician, Wits School of Education


Sinegugu Khulu, Senior technician in the Science and Technology Division and a Research Events Coordinator, School of Education

As the senior technician I oversee and coordinate a team of technicians, laboratory assistants and laboratory demonstrators. In addition, I provide technical support for all chemistry courses from 1st year to 4th year Bachelor of Education (BEd) undergraduate students, BEd honours and Postgraduate Certificate in Education students of the science and technology division. I am responsible for preparation of all chemistry laboratory materials - across all levels, I conduct workshops with demonstrators to ensure that all practicals are conducted in line with the required academic standards and health and safety regulations. Over and above this, I am responsible for the recruitment of lab demonstrators and overseeing their yearly remuneration budget.

As a research events coordinator and research entities convenor in the school of education, I work closely with the research management team to put together an annual research calendar. A major part of my contribution is to increase the School’s research visibility by managing the annual research calendar through organising, advertising and facilitation of various research activities such as research meetings, workshops, research seminars, keynote/public seminars, professional development seminars and the annual research conference. I’m also involved in managed annual budgets of the different research groups within the School.

I have worked for few other companies prior to Wits. These include SA Bioproducts (a manufacturing company) which I worked for between 2008 and 2009 as a laboratory in-service trainee, then went back to school fulltime for postgraduate studies between 2010 and 2011 at the Durban University of Technology where I also worked as a laboratory demonstrator. I then joined Nalco Africa (a water treatment company) in 2012 as an applications engineer for two years, then moved to SRF Flexipak (also a manufacturing company) in 2014 as a technician for two years and finally made my move to Wits in 2016 as a senior technician.

Things that I enjoy about Wits

What I like the most about Wits is the support it gives to its employees when it comes to professional development. This resonates a lot with me since I joined the University as a young lady trying to pursue a PhD in Chemistry with absolutely no funding. The University did not only provide funding but also a conducive environment for me to pursue and complete the degree. Apart from the PhD, I have obtained a certificate in project management and currently pursuing a Masters in Education all of which are funded and supported from the university. Prior to Wits all of these remained as just dreams.

Areas of improvement in the employee experience

I am at a stage where I believe that I have offered enough of my services as the senior technician, and I am at a position where I am up for a new challenge. I have groomed about eight cohorts of demonstrators. I now envision moving fully from being a PAS member into the academic stream. I believe that I am now very much equipped to take on the challenge. Over the years I have been actively involved in research and its dissemination, been voluntarily involved in sessional lecturing and at a stage where I am completing a Masters degree in Science Education for the enhancement of my pedagogical skills.

This matters a lot to me also because I’d like to engage more with students and equip them with the educational skills they need in order to tackle life outside of the University and to advance themselves.

Being born in a rural community located in a small town (Ladysmith, KwaZulu Natal), I plan to become a beacon of hope for all the young black children especially girl children born in rural communities. Through education and career advances, I believe that they will be able to realise that being born in the rurals can never define who you become in life. I am a true advocate of education and want to encourage all black children to shy away from all the stereotypes associated with rural life.

Words to fellow colleagues this Workers’ Month

I want to encourage everyone to work hard and smart in the areas they occupy in their different professional journeys. I believe that God places each and everyone of us strategically at specific areas in our lives, and I urge us to work hard as it will not be in vain. The outcomes may not to be seen immediately, however, they are inevitable.

*The comprehensive culture study is commissioned by the DVC: People Development and Culture