Recruiter Insights: Top 5 benefits job seekers actually care about

Madison Recruitment
7 mins read
Employer employer motivators

If you look at vacancy advertisements on job boards, you’ll notice that often the description of the job descends into a long list of details about the role and the organisation. The organisation is trying to ‘sell’ the job on its features, rather than on benefits for the potential future employee.

Sometimes these so-called ‘selling points’ include the legal mandatory minimums, like “We provide 10 days’ sick leave”. While it’s great to know that the job is compliant with Kiwi employment law (which all jobs should be!), if you truly want to differentiate your vacancy from the many others out there, it’s important to articulate the benefits the job seeker can expect to enjoy when working for you.

This is true even in the current economic climate, because although we might be heading for a recession, the unemployment rate remains incredibly low, and NZ is candidate-short across many industries – it’s still tough recruiting out there! The other issue I come across is that there’s a large amount of generalising both features and benefits in job adverts. But will this one-size-fits-all approach work to attract the talent that’s needed? In my experience, no.

Top tip: Customise the benefits

Before you go to market to find your next great employee, there’s an essential customisation step that will really enhance your recruitment efforts.

Consider the role and its requirements, and then in broad strokes, think about the types of people who may be suited to the job. Build your ideal candidate profile (with some flex of course), and then put yourself in that person’s shoes and identify what benefits they would care about. Perhaps you already run internal engagement surveys where you ask your employees what’s important to them. If so, you could leverage this data, along with your role-planning, in order to build a list of benefits that will really appeal to your target audience.

You can even gain insight during the recruitment process by asking the qualified applicants about what’s important to them. Are there aspects of the job (or your business) which will deliver benefits that matter to them? Use this newly obtained info to emotionally connect your short-listed candidates with what your organisation can provide, and make your opportunity that much more attractive. Personalisation is such a massive feature of modern marketing, and recruitment marketing is no different.

Benefits vs salary

Every year, Madison publishes an Employment Market Report (EMR), which provides local themes and insights, market commentary, and a comprehensive salary and remuneration guide. The 2023 report was recently released, and I think one of the most interesting things to come out of it was the candidate feedback, which highlighted the power of benefits in persuading talented job seekers to choose one job offer over another. Yes, remuneration is always a concern, but benefits make the difference. We know that stretching budgets to enhance salaries is not always possible, so it may be the benefits your organisation can offer that will help you secure the people you need.

Over the last year, I’ve taken the time to ask each of my candidates what benefits are most important to them. I’ve recorded and collated this data, and I am going to share the top five benefits:


1. (Real) Development opportunities

This might seem like a no brainer, and I know many organisations list it as a benefit. However, what candidates mean when they say they want ‘development opportunities’ is more than just the assumption that simply being in the role will allow them to grow and develop during their tenure with the business. Candidates today are savvy and ambitious. They want to know there’s a concrete plan for their role and their personal and professional development. They want to see their potential career pathways and know that there’s a budget for learning and training. If you have any benefits which offer real opportunities for development, shout them from the rooftops.

2. Health and wellbeing support

Health is a significant focus for job seekers today, which was also highlighted in this year’s EMR, and with this focus comes a strong desire for benefits that positively impact their wellbeing. In the prime spot is health insurance. It may be on the more expensive side for the employer, but it is absolutely one of the best things you can offer. I have worked with candidates from all walks of life and have seen many accept a slightly lower salary because the company offered health insurance. On the flip side, I have talked to candidates who have held health insurance for years already, and therefore when looking for a new job say “I’m not giving that up’” and flat out refuse to consider a role that doesn’t offer this benefit.

3. Flexibility

“Productivity increases with fewer hours” – so says research and much internet commentary. Believe me, it almost burns my ears to hear these words — I’m the type of person who will ensure every hour of my week is filled — BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary, for me or for anyone else!

Job seekers know this too of course, and many out there are looking for flexibility in their working hours. This might look like a shift to an early start-early finish model. It might mean a condensed working week, or a job share. Ultimately it’s about a trusting an employee to manage their time and workload. Flexibility is a highly desirable benefit, and it might look different from one organisation to another depending on business needs. Again, connecting with your people to understand what form of flexibility is important to them is a good idea.

4. Make getting to work easier

This one is strongly linked to point three because it’s a form of flexibility, but it also has its differences. Three years into the pandemic, today’s candidates (not all, but a large percentage) want flexibility and support in how and where they work, and to alleviate some of the stress and time it takes to get to their workplace. This might look like providing a free car park, ensuring you’re able to support remote work (at least some of the time), or if none of these are possible because of the nature of your business, helping with transport costs. However you do it, providing these benefits will ensure you’re seen as an attractive and progressive employer. This benefit is especially sought after in the larger city centres.

5. Workplace perks

Number five might be a little controversial, because in recent years there’s been some backlash regarding the provision of office benefits like laundry services, putt-putt golf courses, or even nap rooms(!) that keep the employee at work. These are seen (and rightly so) as a poor trade-off for excessive working hours or a bad workplace culture.

However, there is a place for perks. The job seekers I have spoken to appreciate the extras that organisations provide, particularly when they’re linked to either a) saving money or b) improving health and wellbeing. So if I don’t have to buy a coffee because my office has a beautiful Italian espresso machine along with six kinds of milk, then that’s a nice bonus and I’m a happy camper. Similarly, if I avoid my morning croissant habit and save some dollars because my organisation provides daily fresh fruit or healthy lunch options, then my satisfaction levels will be higher. It all comes down to how you make your employees feel; these small gestures don’t go unnoticed and it sends a message that the organisation cares.


Final advice

With all the change and disruption over the past few years, we’ve all had to adjust to a new normal – job seekers and employees alike. In the recruitment world, we’ve had to become more open-minded about meeting candidate needs while still supporting our clients and helping them understand that today’s job seekers want a different type of offering.

For anyone out there looking to hire, my advice is: be willing to explore options. Ditch the list of generic features and think about what humans need in a workplace, and what your organisation can offer. If you do, I guarantee your recruitment efforts will be much more successful.

Madison Recruitment
About Madison's Services
Our bespoke recruitment methods allow us to provide unique solutions that can help solve your hiring challenges.