Health Now

The Benefits NZ Employees Want In Order To Accept Your Job Offer

Finding high-performing, results-driven and long-term employees can often be a challenge for any business – but in New Zealand’s current climate, finding any employees is proving to be one of the biggest struggles.

A new report from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) has found that industries across the country are struggling with “dire staffing shortages”, with 93.5% of the 355 NZ businesses surveyed looking to fill vacancies – and 100% of these struggling to fill them. 38% have even been advertising for over six months.

When it comes to hiring new staff, it’s an employees’ market, with a record-low unemployment rate of 3.1%. This makes it easier for workers to be selective about the roles they want to take, and carefully consider how attractive an offer is with regards to their added benefits and incentives. 

While salary and wage increases have been widely implemented across the board throughout 2021 to bring many businesses to an even financial playing field within a sector, many have successfully sought to stand out via employee benefits – particularly health benefits – acting as a strong point of differentiation when an offer is presented, and it’s been a smart and timely move.

Health Is Now A Top Priority

The financial, emotional and physical pressures endured during the pandemic and lockdowns have adjusted the priorities of what many employees look for in workplace benefits, with the resounding message being they are looking for support in caring for their overall health

EMA found that 32% of employees are concerned about the physical health of their family (up by 10% from pre-pandemic levels), one in four have concerns about their own health (up by 11%), and 23% are concerned for the mental wellbeing of their family. These concerns came in ahead of financial security, a finding described as “telling” by NIB NZ’s Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin, who noted that it’s a demonstration of “why supporting the health and wellbeing of your workforce should be a top priority for employers”.

The EMA also asked workers which initiatives would make the biggest difference to addressing these concerns, and the top two responses included flexible working policies and mental health initiatives

This is supported by research from recruiting experts Hays, who placed mental and physical health and wellness programs in the top two benefits currently sought by prospective employees. 

Mental and physical health and wellbeing programs were found to be more greatly desired than a company car, car allowance or onsite parking, budget for a home office, financial support for professional study, share incentives, paying professional membership fees – even paid leave for study. Based on these results, 35% of businesses surveyed by EMA recently improved their working practices, including adding to their mental and physical health and wellbeing programmes. 

“These aren’t big things, don’t take up a lot of time and money, and highlight that it’s the little things that can make a huge difference to ensuring your people are happier and healthier in mind and body. That makes them more productive, leaves them feeling good about the contribution they’re making and stick with you,”  – EMA Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

Health Benefits Support Retention

Benefits not only help to entice new workers, but it retains workers too. 84% of businesses strongly agreed that in their experience, staff wellbeing initiatives were a major contributor to retaining high-performing employees, reducing turnover and retention levels (65%) and reducing absentee rates (63%).

Despite this, only 33% of New Zealand employees are currently satisfied with their benefits – a significant gap in the market that has created an opportunity for savvy businesses to step up and offer employees what they really want – better health benefits. 

Which Health Benefits Are Being Used To Attract New Staff?

For some companies, part of increasing focus on employee wellness has included offering mental health days, private health insurance, flexible working hours, and on-site exercise facilities, among others. 

Others businesses are choosing to take a strategic approach to recognise that health and wellness requirements are multifaceted, complex, and extend beyond the immediate employee to their families. As such, they are choosing to give employees greater control of how the money allocated for their health benefits is used via a dedicated digital health wallet, like the one offered by leading digital health company HealthNow, that can be used for a wide range of health services for themselves or their families. The health services are selected entirely by the employee within the parameters you set, and without the funds ever expiring or going unacknowledged or forgotten, as can happen with unclaimed insurance plans. 


“There is a significant opportunity for businesses to stand out as the preferred employer, and it’s being missed. Businesses are looking at what they think employees want, and failing to listen to what their candidates are telling them: they want health and wellbeing support to be a priority, and for it to be offered in a meaningful way that genuinely makes a positive impact on the employee and their families


I’m not talking about the token fruit bowl or non-descript work-life balance claims. Having your employees see money from employers readily available in a specialised account that they know they can use however they need to in order to improve their health shows you care, and that you get it. You understand health is complex and often doesn’t tick strict boxes filled with terms and prerequisites. Once you give employees that respect, that’s when you see high-performing staff retained, sick leave days taken reduced, and productivity improved with reduced presenteeism. And that’s what HealthNow is designed to offer.” – Steven Zinsli, CEO of HealthNow and CoverUS 

HealthNow has been supporting New Zealand businesses since 2020, and offers additional benefits to health wallet holders including Health Savers Account and an interest-free Buy Now Pay Later payment option, helping their funds go even further.

You can learn more about using HealthNow’s personalised health benefits and employer aid to make your business stand out for employees here.

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