Spark will now pay all permanent staff who aren't on a commission at least $19.20 an hour.

The company's new policy - called Spark Pay - means all full-time workers not on a commission are paid a minimum salary of $40,000 a year.

Permanent staff who work part-time will receive this salary on a pro-rata basis, a Spark spokeswoman said.

That means all permanent workers not on commission - either full or part-time - are paid at least $19.20 an hour, well above the minimum wage of $15.25 an hour.


The scheme will also provide full-time employees other benefits worth over $2,500 a year, including :

• $150 credit each month towards Spark products and services;

• life, income and trauma insurance;

• the ability to buy company shares with an interest free loan;

• the ability to buy an extra week's leave each year;

• more flexible hours over summer;

The scheme has benefited 250 Spark workers, who received pay increases over the last two years to bring them up to the $40,000 per annum level, the phone and internet provider said.

The NZX-listed company employs more than 5000 people.

Workers on commissions that earn a lower base salary will have the ability to earn an average of $42,000 and also get the $2,500 in company benefits, Spark said today.

"Spark has in recent years overhauled its employment practices and has been working towards this solution for a while, to ensure the company attracts the best talent to serve its customers and contributes to a fairer society," said Danielle George, Spark's HR
general manager.

"We've looked at what other companies have done or are doing, but decided our best approach was to talk to our own people, listen to them and figure out what works best for them - and the company. As one of the largest technology employers in New Zealand, we believe it's vitally important that our people are paid at a level which recognises the complexity of our industry, yet is at a level for us to remain competitive," George said.

"We want to do the right thing for our people and to attract the best people to a career in Spark: if that sets a standard that encourages others to follow, that's got to be a good thing for New Zealand," she said.

"Our ambition is to make Spark one of the best employers in New Zealand. Average performance isn't going to get us there: we want our people to be 'better than average' and therefore we've tried to come up with innovative ways of rewarding, recognising and compensating our people.

"This is about being a responsible employer - we will always look to do better, but this is our way of helping transform New Zealand into a higher wage economy."

While Spark's pay is well above minimum wage it's still below the national median income. According to Statistics New Zealand in June 2014 the median income across all jobs including part-time work was $45,000. The full-time median income was around $51,000.

Google is well known for leading the trend of the "fun" workplace and New Zealand companies are starting to catch on. Google's website states their offices, which are spread all over the world, are designed to encourage interactions and spark conversation about work and play. They feature indoor parks, terraces, a pub style lounge, a room for new mothers, a rock climbing wall, a bowling alley and quirky themed meeting rooms.

TradeMe is known for treating its employees well with a slide, space invade machine, foosball table, pool table and scooters available for staff to use.

Xero has an internal social networking site, table tennis, staff barista, foosball table and guitar hero game.

Grab One offers their employees a golf set and games machines to take their stress out on.

MixBit, started by Youtube's cofounder Chad Hurley, uses free food and drink, LEGO, bean bags and ping pong tables to keep staff morale high in their Dunedin office.

Mars New Zealand won the place of overall winner in the 2015 IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey. Almost 200 companies participated in the survey and those ranked the highest by their employees won. VTNZ, FMG, Hilti and Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner won their categories.