CRUISING to work in a chauffeur-driven car, dining with his boss at a fancy restaurant and having an afternoon back massage.

Those were some of the perks Mr Christopher See indulged in on his first day at a new job.

The 27-year-old graphic designer with design consultancy firm Landor Associates started his job last week and said he was shocked when he was first told about the rock star treatment.

"The first day just blew me away. It was such a welcoming feeling entering the Landor office and since this is my first job since coming back from Australia, it really felt like a homecoming."

This quirky take on the first-day induction programme was launched last year, as part of Landor's wider staff retention programme at its Singapore office.

Mr Nick Foley, president and chief executive of South-east Asia and Pacific regions at Landor Associates, said: "In developed economies like Singapore, it's increasingly difficult to find quality candidates.

"If what we're doing now convinces someone to stay for three to five years, then the cost of that initial day pales in comparison to finding and training someone new all over again every year or two."

Recruitment experts say that with Singapore's jobless rate at just 2 per cent, employees have the upper hand now.

"Companies are realising that their local employees are highly sought after in other countries. This means they are not just competing with other Singapore companies, they are competing in the global war for talent," said Ms Stella Tang, director of recruitment firm Robert Half Singapore.

Dangling staff perks to recruit talent is not a new concept. Tales of free meals, complimentary hotel stays and workplaces fitted out with console games have been common chatter over office water coolers across Singapore.

Recruiting firm Randstad's director of professionals Richard Farmer said some companies even offer their products free to staff.

"This is a great idea as it creates pride in a company's products and develops internal champions of its brand."

But winning staff over does not require creative tricks, human resource professionals said. The key is meeting their basic needs.

"By acknowledging the needs of employees outside of work and giving them the flexibility to play the other important roles in their lives, you are more likely to keep your employees," said Ms Tang.

She added that flexible work arrangements is one way companies can achieve that.

A recent survey by Robert Half indicates that 87 per cent of Singapore employers offer opportunities for their staff to work from home, higher than the global average of 79 per cent.

Ms Tang added that aside from pay, opportunities for overseas posting, job rotation, career advancement prospects and options for further education are all factors employees consider when deciding whether to stay or go.

Mr Farmer noted that long- term offerings, ideally those aligned with the company culture, are better at encouraging loyalty towards companies.

And while some firms may focus on staff perceptions on their first day, he added, it is equally vital to find out how they feel about the company when they leave.

"Don't forget exit interviews. Get to know why people leave and use this data to build effective retention strategies."