Consult Recruitment NZ > Hiring  > Can’t Pay Your Team Top Dollar? Here Are 7 Things To Try Instead

Can’t Pay Your Team Top Dollar? Here Are 7 Things To Try Instead

We recently released New Zealand’s largest accounting and finance salary report.

It’s called What The Buck! and the interest it’s generated has been overwhelming. As a result, our team have been having some pretty interesting conversations with business leaders across Auckland. 

Naturally, the first thing most hiring managers want to know is how well they remunerate their staff compared to the market.

For some people, the news has been good. For others; not so much.

Now I’m no statistician, but I’m pretty sure the nature of the bell curve means that half of businesses will find they’re paying below average.

And that’s OK. Not everyone can be in the top half of the market when it comes to employee remuneration.

The fact is that some businesses in the bottom half are still very attractive to top talent – maybe they’re based in a great location, or they’re in a exciting industry, or they’re a start-up with tonnes of growth opportunities for early-stage employees.

Some businesses, though, don’t have any of those natural advantages, and they can’t afford to compete on salary – yet still they have zero problem attracting and retaining top talent. How do they manage it?

The answer:

They’re smart and deliberate about finding creative ways to reward their staff.

Here’s a list of the most popular benefits from our online salary comparison tool, to get you started. Some of these benefits cost a little money, but can be more attractive to employees than cash in hand. Others are completely free.

(Note: Whatever the mix of benefits you decide on, be sure to formalise them and to advertise them when you’re hiring).


For employees who want to be available for their family or other demands outside of their day job, part time hours are worth their weight in gold. When done right (think: structure and clear expectations), offering part time work can work very well and is extremely attractive.


Paid external training can be good if you can afford it, but it’s not the only (or necessarily best) option available. Many businesses we work with tap into the existing expertise in their teams to offer quality training and mentorship programmes for staff at all levels of their career – not just new starters.


This can be quite an attractive benefit to staff, and signals that you value their commitment to professional development. You’d be surprised at the number of businesses who will only hire CA or CPA qualified staff, but don’t pay for their memberships. Taking care of this cost for your people is an easy way to differentiate yourself.


Thirty-two percent of the 5,500 accounting employees using receive bonuses. For people in senior roles, that number’s much higher, but a large proportion of people who you might not expect to also earn bonuses – for example 33% of credit controllers and 26% of accounts payable officers.

The beauty of bonuses is that they can be tied to company financial performance as well as individual KPI’s, meaning that not only are you incentivising exceptional performance; generally you’re only paying for it when you can afford to.


Car parking (especially for employees in the city) is an extremely attractive benefit. Often you can more than make up for a lower salary with a car park, as it’ll be cheaper for your staff than paying for it out of their after-tax salary (plus you don’t have to pay fringe benefit tax). 


This doesn’t need to be a whole extra week of leave – something as small as a day off on an employee’s birthday, or a paid day’s leave for all the team on Christmas Eve is a great perk. It won’t cost you much in lost productivity, but goes a very long way in terms of goodwill.


On top of all these formal benefits, there’s a slew of other small, inexpensive or free things you can do as a leader to motivate employees and create a great company culture. Things like free fruit, early finishes on Fridays and team lunches to celebrate success can make a massive difference to employee attraction and retention.

If you don’t have the budget to pay a top salary, and you’re not offering some creative alternatives, trust me: If it’s not already hurting your business, it will soon. With the new era of prolonged and systemic skills shortages looming on the horizon, doing nothing is really not an option.

If you manage an accounting team in Auckland and you’re not sure how their salaries compare to the market, request a copy of What The Buck here.

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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