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Survey Report

The Evolution of Benefits in New Zealand: From Transactional to Transformational

Health and Benefits|Talent|Total Rewards|Integrated Wellbeing

By Niall Martin | December 5, 2019

From a transactional, “check the box” item, benefits have evolved into a true attraction and retention tool.

New Zealand insights from the Willis Towers Watson 2019/20 Benefit Trends survey show that employers understand that their benefit strategy can be instrumental in shaping the type of organisation they are, and the way their employees – and their peers – perceive them.

Benefit strategies are embracing concepts such as inclusion and diversity, corporate social responsibility, and flexible work policies. The question needs to be asked: as benefits become broader, are they truly effective in what they have been designed to do? Are employers getting the full value from their benefits package, and are they truly equipped to address the needs of a changing, multigenerational workforce?

The survey showed New Zealand employers are thinking more strategically about the importance of benefits in their organisations, with more attention shifting to financing, analytics and – importantly – talent or employee experience.

Employers struggle with old challenges, as well as new – the rising cost of employee benefits is top of mind for New Zealand organisations and their global peers. In New Zealand, less than a third of employers believe their benefits package is tailored to meet the specific needs of their workforce.

The top four priorities for New Zealand organisations’ benefit portfolios are:

  • Incorporating wellbeing into overall benefit strategy
  • Enhance work policies, e.g. flexible work, recognition, mentoring, training
  • Incorporate I&D into benefits programs design
  • Enhance core benefits

There are also operational challenges around a lack of data to measure plan outcomes (38%) and challenges in relation to the effective communication around benefit choices, with almost a third (30%) of employers calling this out. This challenge goes hand-in-hand with a noted lack of budget to deliver an effective communication strategy, cited by 36% of employers.

An interesting point for New Zealand employers is that the provision of most benefits is discretionary and often a focus can be on the pure cost of benefits spend, which may not consider the cost of delivering an effective message to employees.


Niall Martin
Head of Health & Benefits New Zealand

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