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Home » Transforming the Workplace » A holistic approach to reward is highly aligned to culture

Isha Smith

Director Total Rewards, SoundCloud

A new generation expects enhanced reward packages above traditional benefits as they seek a more flexible and supportive working environment. 

More than ever, the use of employee rewards in a changing landscape is crucial to recruiting and retaining talent. According to Isha Smith, this should go beyond traditional aspects and connect with the employer’s unique value proposition. Smith oversees total rewards, learning and development (L&D) and people analytics at music entertainment company SoundCloud in the UK, Germany and the US. 

Culture is key to meaningful rewards 

As Director of Total Rewards, Smith believes that rewards aligned with company culture and values, beyond the notion of ‘market competitive’ offering, deliver a more authentic experience. 

“For us, this means defining the ‘SoundCloud Way’ — aligned to employee demographic, our values and DEI commitment — catering to talent across dual worlds of tech and music. We strive to view everything we do in the employee experience journey through this lens.”

Rewards for development 

That ‘holistic approach’ encompasses performance recognition, work–life balance, personal and professional growth and comprehensive wellbeing benefits, with equal access for everyone.  

“Increasingly, we are looking at learning and development as a big part of our reward proposition: it reflects our collaborative and agile environment,” she says. The company’s L&D benefit includes days and financial support dedicated to learning opportunities. “We are committed to building a culture that drives individual growth, creating formal and informal growth opportunities,” Smith adds. 

We want to adapt to the changing
needs of our employees.

Going beyond with inclusive benefits 

Smith underlines the importance of supportive and inclusive benefits. More recently, to complement its generous family leave offering, the company has introduced family-forming and fertility benefits. This includes support in navigating fertility care, access to fertility treatments and family-building support such as adoption and surrogacy, along with financial assistance. “Our mission is to make sure people feel supported — we truly believe that SoundCloud is for everyone.” 

In contrast with the increasing number of businesses adopting formal hybrid working/return to office policies, the company is holding onto its ‘no mandatory office days’ stance. Instead, the company’s Workplace team is bringing its ‘Connect First’ approach to life around cultural moments of celebration. “It is a mutual relationship — we want to adapt to the changing needs of our employees; and this ties into that holistic view of rewards, employee experience and DEI,” she says. 

Smith believes the company’s approach to rewards helped it better weather challenges — not only external macro challenges but also its own transformation — but she emphasises the need to share information about company goals and priorities to drive engagement. 

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