Ask not what you can do for your employer, but what your employer can do for you: KK News Investigation

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Bosses may find themselves considering their own curriculum vitaes as employees are increasingly asking for more than just a desk in an office and compensation. Virginia Fallon and Kevin Norquay report.

Whether it’s a $10,000 contribution towards a worker’s first-home deposit, wellness payments, or free lunches, New Zealand businesses are pulling out all the stops to lure staff, and to keep them.

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The country’s skills and labour shortage has sparked fierce competition across almost all sectors, flipping the script on employers in the face of increasing expectations from potential employees.

Experts say the pandemic has left workers feeling more dissatisfied than ever and though money still matters, questions about working conditions and company principles are just as likely to be raised in interviews, as the size of the salary.

And, with unemployment figures at near record lows and two years of border closures taking their toll, employers are finding it is them, not job candidates, who are having to stand out during the recruitment process.

No longer is a fruit bowl or a wellness programme making waves – Stuff has identified bosses who are letting their employees work from overseas so they can travel, giving them tickets to comedy shows for mental health, arranging their transport to and from work, or trialling the four-day work week.

One innovation is a $10,000 bonus to bump up first home deposits of employees who’ve been on the books for at least two years, a sweetener Rod Macfarlane’s company, which employs about 30 staff between Auckland, Hamilton and the US, offers.

While it doesn’t need to be paid back, employees commit to stick with the company for three years, says the MEA Mobile co-founder.

Although the scheme was in play well before the pandemic, Macfarlane says attracting and keeping staff is now a major issue for many companies, so perks like his home buyer scheme add something special.

Emma Gibbins, human resources manager for global legal practice Dentons Kensington Swan, says there’s been a huge change in the way would-be employees are vetting potential employers.

“With the great resignation, then the great attrition, a lot of employers are really struggling to find talent in the market so recruitment and retention has been a big issue.”

While the issue has been slowly building over years, the pandemic had shaken things up. Long days of working from home opened people’s eyes to the importance of a work/life balance that employers now have to ensure.

“Coming out of Covid what we are seeing is flexibility and remote working is a non-negotiable for people,” she says.

Added to that is a focus on an organisations’ values and culture from employees wanting to make sure it aligns with their own. Questions about wellness, diversity and inclusion are common during the recruitment process.

Dentons offers employees an annual wellness payment to be spent at their discretion as well as a paid day volunteering for an organisation of their choosing.