Kiwi tech company Optimizer HQ is taking a novel approach to attracting quality staff in a competitive software developer job market - by offering free catered staff lunches and snacks, subsidised childcare, gym memberships and a whole host of other unique benefits, to potential new employees.
Optimizer HQ CEO Manas Kumar says that the tactic has already worked successfully in other markets.
"This is a Silicon Valley approach that has worked really well for other companies internationally and we are recruiting in a highly specialised field where we face a lot of competition not just from other NZ firms, but also those overseas."
Optimizer HQ launched on the German stock exchange in December last year, and is in the middle of an ambitious international expansion programme. Kumar says that he has also been developing a number of new products due for release later in the year.
"Optimizer HQ started the year with nine staff and today we have 29 staff locally and another eight who work for us off-shore. We are looking for at least another ten people for our head office in Auckland. While there is no shortage of applicants for the roles we have advertised, finding quality candidates that will fit in with our work and company culture is another matter altogether.
"We want to find staff with vision, who can see a long-term future with us, and for that, we are prepared to offer them not just a clear line of career progression within the company but also an above-average salary package, and a whole host of other employment benefits which may not be available to them elsewhere," says Kumar.
These benefits include free healthy catered lunches and snacks, with menus featuring low GI, high fibre foods.
"We have a strong emphasis on providing healthy foods to improve the overall health of our employees and keep them fit. The catered two course meal has a compulsory green salad component and dessert. At some stage I also plan to bring in a nutritionist to offer opinion on what might be the best diet for our individual people," says Kumar.
All permanent staff will also get life and medical insurance, dry cleaning and public transport allowances, and childcare and gym and fitness allowances. Kumar says it makes sense to ensure that employees are kept happy outside of the workplace.
"A happy, healthy, well-rounded employee with interests outside of work and that feels supported by the company in their home and private lives are more likely to want to stay with that company for a long time."
"It makes business and economic sense, in that it reduces staff turnover and, if we can develop future managers through a tailored mentoring and leadership programme then we are offering staff a strong incentive to stay with us for the long term - its an initiative with mutual benefit."
Staff are also supplied snacks of free muesli bars, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, vegetable chips, crackers and dried fruit and nuts throughout the day with no limits or restrictions on how much they take.
Kumar says like many technology firms worldwide most of his staff are in their early twenties and have been programming since they were teenagers.
He says this generation of developers is looking for more than just a salary.
"These employees want a sense of belonging and being part of a 'family' within an organisation. We help to create this by supporting their personal well-being as well as their professional development," he says.
Kumar says that the company has been recruiting through Google Adwords and social media to drive word-of-mouth recruitment, as well as traditional channels.
"But surprisingly, what has worked out very well for us has been old-fashioned, grassroots employment referrals through friends and family. We have recruited some of our best, brightest, most dedicated and highest-performing employees this way," he says.
For more information visit www.optimizerhq.com