Employee perks policy pays off

By Susan Edmunds

Manas Kumar says offering incentives is the way to go. Photo / Supplied
Manas Kumar says offering incentives is the way to go. Photo / Supplied

For anyone who has struggled to find work over the past couple of years, it must sound like a fairytale: a high-paying job with perks such as catered lunches, subsidised childcare, gym memberships and snacks.

But Optimizer HQ chief executive Manas Kumar says offering the incentives is the only way to attract the kind of staff he wants in the competitive software developer job market.

"This Silicon Valley approach has worked really well for other companies internationally," Kumar says. "We are recruiting in a highly specialised field where we face a lot of competition not just from other New Zealand firms but those overseas."

The company listed on the German stock exchange last December. It has 29 staff in Auckland and eight overseas. Kumar is looking for at least another 10 staff.

"While there is no shortage of applicants for the roles we have advertised, finding quality candidates who will fit in with our work and company culture is another matter altogether."

He says he has received more than 120 applications over the past six months but many are from people without the right skills or mindset.

"We're looking at building a global business. It's hard to find people who can work in New Zealand but who are up to speed with what's going on in the rest of the world. There are talented people but their focus is very localised."

All permanent staff get life and medical insurance, dry cleaning and public transport allowances, and childcare and gym and fitness allowances.

They also receive catered lunches and healthy snacks.

"A happy, healthy, well-rounded employee with interests outside of work who feels supported by the company in their home and private lives is more likely to want to stay with that company for a long time," Kumar says. The sweeteners have not made a difference to the level of job applications. He says salaries are in line or better than what is standard for the industry. A survey by Absolute IT says the median salary for software developers in New Zealand is $70,000.

Kate Ross, of recruitment agency Kinetic, said she had heard of other examples of companies using Kumar's tactics, but it was rare.

"It is happening a little bit but it's definitely not the norm. It's mostly for particular roles that are very hard to fill."

She said childcare offers were the most common.

- Herald on Sunday

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