Rules governing compensation are designed to ensure that pay levels are both competitive with market rates and tailored to various individual criteria, which take into account not only individual skills and performance, but also the team contribution. In all cases, performance is assessed based on the extent to which objectives have been met. As in any company, reward and recognition at AXA are key drivers to foster employee engagement and to a fulfilling and successful career. Reward and recognition at AXA are balanced between tangible and intangible elements. Reward is more than just pay and benefits, and it covers a large part of the work experience with the Company.
A "Total Reward Strategy" has been defined to meet three key criteria: 1) attract and retain talents from the market, by offering competitive packages and differentiating high performers; 2) define fairness as the combination of internal equity and meritocracy (for any given job responsibilities, superior performance deserves greater compensation); 3) the overall compensation costs must be in line with our economic performance as compared to the market. This is the key to become the "Preferred Company" also for our customers and shareholders.
Detailed information concerning individual compensation of the AXA Management Committee members is provided in Part 3 Section 2 of the Annual Report.
Benefits form a significant part of AXA's overall employee value proposition. They can either supplement local government provided health and welfare programs or be the primary source of these benefits in some countries. They can also be used to deliver the remuneration package in a tax favourable way. AXA's benefits approach is primarily country-driven, since employee benefit plans can vary significantly between countries due to different levels of social benefits provisions and diverse tax and legal regulations. However, AXA's policy is to target benefits coverage at the median of the relevant market and encourage flexible benefits schemes, as this allows employees choose the set of benefits they perceive as high-value. The Group promotes benefits that should include some competitive insurance coverage (whose nature and type vary by entity depending on local competitive and cost considerations) and opportunities to access other financial benefits. This helps to raise local awareness of AXA's risk prevention purpose, our products and services and the importance of the customer experience. A majority of AXA's employees enjoy a comprehensive supplementary benefits package. In all cases, the local minimum requirements are respected and generally exceeded by Group companies. Moreover, Group HR offers advisory services in this area. The Group also strives to support AXA's Corporate Responsibility strategy by providing access to responsible investment solutions, wherever possible.
Through the "SharePlan" program, the Group encourages its employees to become AXA shareholders and, in doing so, become more engaged. Offered internationally for the first time in 1993, the annual SharePlan operation offers AXA employees an opportunity to buy Group shares at preferential rates. In 2016, this offer covered 36 countries in which AXA represented approximately 28,000 employees with a total subscription of over €430 million, bringing the total employee shareholding at 5.7% of the share capital on December 31, 2016.
Several local AXA entities include environmental considerations in their profit sharing agreement. For example, the multi-year profit sharing agreements covering the employees of AXA France and the AXA Group headquarters (GIE) include provisions related to paper consumption. AXA France has also set aside a dedicated budget since 2008 to address gender-based pay gaps, as developed in the D&I section below. AXA Germany launched an initiative in 2011 whereby managers can allocate extra benefits for employees that have shown a significant effort. The employees may select a reward of their choice in a catalogue of presents with various price categories. In AXA Asia, as part of employee engagement programs, the region implemented a number of "Reward & Recognition" programs that aim to drive a customer centric culture, develop a performance culture where employees can gain satisfaction through due recognition, and acknowledge and recognize employees' key life-event changes.