This is the first edition in an eight-week series, made possible by MYOB, looking at how technology is changing the way New Zealand businesses operate.

Forget the foosball, office slide and ping pong table, if you want to create an attractive workplace to attract and retain New Zealand's best workers, employers should concentrate on 'work-life balance' just as much as 'pay and perks'.

According to research carried out by recruitment and HR company Randstad 55 per cent of respondents said 'work-life balance' was the most important consideration when deciding on a new job – just two per cent behind 'salary and benefits' on 57 per cent.

So what are the five main factors that go into creating the perfect workplace and why are they so important to employers and employees.


Salary and benefits

Few employers take the 'best boss' description as seriously as Christchurch motor vehicle and finance company owner Paul Kelly.

Last May he took all 45 of his staff to Las Vegas, for a week, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his business.

Kelly says it was worth every cent and according to most local and international research he's right with 'salary and benefits' still number one when it comes to creating an attractive workplace.

Employers should commit to paying every employee a living wage – which really does reflect the cost of where an employee lives.

When it comes to higher-end jobs, being above average on the pay-scale improves job satisfaction, raises productivity and increase job and company loyalty.

Where possible, employers should give employees a stake in the company's success, in the form of profit sharing, or stock option, or bonuses tied to performance.

If the company does well, all employees should share in the success, in meaningful ways.

If there were awards for the country’s Best Boss, one of these two gents would surely be top of the list.

Work-life balance

'Work-life balance' is about effectively managing the juggling act between paid work and the other activities that are important to people.

It's about work not completely crowding out the other things that matter to people like time with family, participation in community activities, voluntary work, personal development, leisure and recreation.

Research released last week by workspace company Regus shows flexible working will have a massive impact on business practices and productivity across the world.

In New Zealand between 74,000 and 83,000 additional jobs located in remote and flexible working are expected to be created by 2030, adding between $16.2 billion and $18.1 billion in economic output.

Work-life balance is different for everyone. For some, it may mean more work, for others less. There's no 'one size fits all' solution.

Office Design

New research shows gimmicks like foosball and ping pong tables do not lead to a more attractive workplace for most employees.

More important is designing an environment that is safe, comfortable and appealing to work in.

Offices should include a range of physical spaces that allow for privacy, collaboration and simply hanging out.

Where possible open kitchens and gyms can help with staff morale but one of the most important aspects of an office is having a well-maintained climate control system.

The size of the pingpong table isn't porportional to the level of staff satisfaction. Photo/Getty Images.
The size of the pingpong table isn't porportional to the level of staff satisfaction. Photo/Getty Images.

Some research shows dummy thermostats which don't work but allow people to feel they're in control of an office's temperature can help with employees' differing expectations.

Work atmosphere

When Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes signed off on a company-wide four-day week earlier this month, he turned an experiment into policy.

Independent academic research showed despite staff working only four days a week, productivity levels had remained intact while stress levels had dropped by 7 per cent and work-life balance had jumped by a massive 24 per cent.

If there were awards for the country’s Best Boss, one of these two gents would surely be top of the list.

While the four-day model won't work for all companies the results are in keeping with wide-spread research that shows work atmosphere is critical when it comes to productivity and staff satisfaction.

Companies can help build a positive work atmosphere by providing healthy, high-quality food, at the lowest possible prices, including in vending machines.

Where possible they should offer a well-equipped gym and other facilities that encourage employees to move physically and stay fit.

Companies should even consider creating places for employees to rest and renew during the course of the working day and encourage them to take intermittent breaks.

Ideally, leaders would permit afternoon naps, which fuel higher productivity in the several hours that follow.

Job Security

Job security has become an increasingly rare commodity in a global economy that offers no lack of cheap labour alternatives.

Employers that want to retain quality workers need to recognise and address this concern.

This can be done by providing employees with ongoing opportunities and incentives to learn, develop and grow, both in establishing new job-specific hard skills, as well as softer skills that serve them well as individuals, and as managers and leaders.

Businesses should also stand for something beyond simply increasing profits.

Create products or provide services or serve causes that clearly add value in the world, making it possible for employees to derive a sense of meaning from their work, and to feel good about the companies for which they work.

New Zealand's Top 10 Most Attractive Employers

1. Air New Zealand
2. Department of Conservation
3. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
4. Healthcare of New Zealand
6. House of Travel
7. Deloitte
8. AUT University
9. New Zealand Custom Service
10. Flight Centre NZ

Research by Randstad