For two Christchurch companies, Southern Cross health insurance is more than a commitment to health and wellbeing - it's also vital to their success as employers of choice.
Mike Greer Homes (MGH) and Switched On Property Maintenance (SOPM) are both part of Christchurch's construction industry: MGH through designing and building homes for Christchurch families; and SOPM through providing an extensive range of property maintenance, renovation and repair services for homeowners and businesses alike. Both are anticipating massive increases in demand for their services as the Christchurch earthquake recovery programme gathers momentum - and both are committed to retaining and attracting the staff they need to deliver on their promises.
"Keeping our staff is a huge issue for us, especially as the reconstruction programme gets underway," says Mike Greer, Director of MGH. "We expect to see intense competition for qualified, experienced tradespeople, so we need to offer those who work for us attractive, well rounded employment packages. We see health insurance as part of the mix."
MGH and SOPM have both chosen a Southern Cross shared cover plan that contributes to the costs of diagnostic tests, consultations and surgery. It's proven a popular choice for employees, with many accepting the opportunity to upgrade to more comprehensive plans at their own expense.
"I've been impressed by the response from my team," says Chris Hughes, SOPM's General Manager. "Instead of taking it for granted, they appreciate that it's a genuine commitment from us to their personal health and wellbeing. It reinforces our philosophy as a family business - that we care about those who work for us, today and for the long term."
SOPM also actively promotes its health insurance package to potential employees, via radio advertisements, in its recruitment advertising, and on signs at its Christchurch office. "It's working," says Chris. "People see it as a bonus, something that not many employers in our industry offer."
For MGH, the shared cover health insurance plan is part of a health and safety package that includes an in-house gym for all employees and membership of Site Safe, an organisation dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries in the construction industry.
"These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to meeting high workplace standards and looking after the health and safety of our staff, says Mike. We're proud to be one of very few construction companies in Canterbury - if not the only company - to offer health insurance to office based and offsite employees."
Mike says his team have been quick to grasp the benefits of health insurance. "Many of them are younger guys who might not otherwise be considering it. But once they understand what it's all about and why it's a good idea, they're really behind it."
Both Mike and Chris emphasise the value of health insurance in gaining and securing employee loyalty.
"It's a long-term strategy for us," says Chris. "We intend being a successful part of the community long after Christchurch is back on its feet, and this is one way we can show our team how much we value their commitment to the company."