Employers are bending over backwards to retain good workers by being flexible and offering incentives.
It's been in the news recently that Apple and Facebook have offered to freeze eggs for female employees, the purpose is, apparently, to attract more women on to their staff.
It's a controversial idea, of course, and Apple told the Guardian: "Apple cares deeply about our employees and their families, and we are always looking at new ways our health programmes can meet their needs."
It appears that New Zealand companies are not going this far - in fact Facebook has said it would pay up to $20,000 for this perk - but companies here are keeping up with other international trends to attract good staff and keep them.
The buzzwords of the day are hot-desking, standing-up desks, wellness initiatives, bringing dogs into work, flexible hours, job sharing and more.
A company in the forefront of doing things differently is Datamine, in fact this business has been ahead of the times for the past 19 years. "Smooth Operator", aka the HR manager Michaela Swan, says Datamine provides free lunches/breakfasts to staff and has a "family kitchen" where people can eat lunch together. This isn't just a cafeteria - workers' likes are taken into account.
The company also subsidises fortnightly massages. Some employees work from home - it's about what suits them and the company tries to be flexible, understanding that big commutes can cause unnecessary stress. Some meetings are done on Skype, but people are encouraged to come in for team meetings and extra training.
The proof of the pudding? Datamine hires well and their staff retention is excellent, says Swan. "We get to know new employees quickly, we have a meet and greet and support people as they settle in."
Employees can take part in a casual team quiz. Swan says: "We're very proud of being a geeky company - it works for us."
HR consultant John Butters of John Butters and Associates, who cited Datamine as an excellent example of a company that's doing things differently, says the reasons some companies are deciding on innovative ways of doing things include:
•"Soft" legal drivers, for example the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007 which has obvious benefits for employees such as being able to request work hours to suit personal responsibilities or career stage and companies having to consider the requests and seeing the benefits in being able to retain key skills in their businesses.
•"Firm" legal drivers, eg, since the Health and Safety Employment Act 1992 and ahead of the amended act coming into force in 2015, companies, company directors and officers are more focused on their responsibilities for employees' "wellbeing" and the potential legal penalties for non-compliance. Over time this has led to many companies offering employees free flu and medical checks, quit smoking programmes, subsidised health insurance premiums, and employee assistance programmes.
•The need to appeal to, attract and hire generation X and Y employees for their skill and understanding of the target markets, eg, communications or technology companies offering in the rewards packages such things as smart phones, extra paid parental leave beyond what the Government pays, a day off on the employee's birthday, and access to counselling and career advice.
Senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School, Dr Barbara Plester, says that New Zealand has some "pretty innovative and creative companies".
"The world of work is changing - we no longer have the nine to five jobs we used to have. There's a lot more job sharing and working for more than one organisation going on. However, organisations are much more likely to be doing things for fulltime employees."
She says she's noticed that some companies will turn on Facebook or Trade Me at lunch time as a "perk".
Some are experimenting with standing desks - since sitting for hours at a time can be unhealthy - and other types of alternatives to chairs, such as Swiss balls.
Many companies look to encourage good eating and health and wellbeing programmes. "I know of some companies who will, for example, give staff $300 towards wellness initiatives, such as for a pair of sneakers or towards gym membership." She says that a big thing that has, and continues to change our working lives, is technology. Technology means that people don't have to be in the office to be working and it means companies can be more flexible about working hours.
"Standing meetings is another new thing that's happening - meeting tables are designed for people to stand - it's found that there's less wasting of time as people aren't slumped in chairs. They talk about what needs to be discussed and then move on." But not everything is uncontroversial, hotdesking is something else that's becoming popular - meaning that the office has a certain number of desks and that they're on a first come, first served basis - there are no designated desks. Plester says this can work well for some, but for others it can lead to a feeling of being lost. "There's no place to personalise one's workplace and for some that could be challenging. There could be a lack of feeling of belonging.
There is also a fear that if I don't get in to work early enough I may not get the spot I want.
"Some people do thrive on it, and it certainly saves money for the company - as it means less space is needed, there are no empty desks when people are on leave or sick."
Auckland's Dr Stress, John McEwan, says hotdesking lowers a person's sense of identity. "There could be exceptions where people have everything on their laptop or mobile. But people with desks will put on personal photos, which gives a sense of connectedness.
"Hotdesking could give the destructive message of 'you don't matter', it doesn't matter who's at your desk, as long as someone is. It works for firms who want a transient workforce."
Of all new ways of doing things, McEwan says it's about intelligent application and customisation. "Even in the 90s people didn't actually have to go into the office - there are still companies that demand that their employees be in the building. So, some are moving faster than others.
"The real challenge, though, of working from home is transitions from work to home life. You've got to be able to let your brain turn off, people who are working in an office have the commute time to make the transition. If you work from home you need to be 'intelligently selfish' and find time to relax."
By customise, McEwan says standing up desks for some may be an excellent idea, while others may struggle to stand for long periods. "Some may need a high stool, or even a Lazy Boy chair. Customising an office to your employee's needs maximises productivity. It's about valuing people," he says.