As the world continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, we are experiencing turbulence in the labor market on a global scale that is making it increasingly difficult for companies to attract and retain talent. 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation as more than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs. Now we are learning the Great Resignation is really the Great Reshuffle or the Great Upgrade as these workers have not exited the workforce but are rather finding new jobs. All of these changes combined with the overall employment rate at pre-pandemic levels of 3.6% create a tough hiring environment across all industries including the commercial real estate industry.
So, as the war for talent continues to get more competitive what can we do to navigate through the turbulence?
Listen First. Talk with your employees and learn what benefits or policies are important to them so that you can focus on what will be most impactful. Employees are looking beyond the compensation package and many people are much more focused on work-life balance. With the increased demand for flexibility, companies must find the balance between what works best for their people while promoting collaboration and productivity to execute their business.
Provide Growth and Training. Invest in growing your employees. This can be through formal training or just exposure to parts of the business they may not get day to day. Understand what your individual employee’s goals are and work to provide the growth opportunities to help them get there. If you are not actively working to provide these opportunities, you run the risk of people looking to challenge themselves elsewhere.
Refocus On Your Company Culture. Regardless of what your company culture looks like one thing is sure, it was disrupted in 2020. Just think about the number of people that were hired and onboarded during 2020, and how different their experiences must have been. Now more than ever companies need to refocus on their company culture and be intentional about engaging employees.
Know the Market. The competitive labor market is resulting in higher salaries. However, real wages are actually declining due to inflation which is making employees more receptive to job changes. Companies should regularly benchmark their positions to ensure the compensation packages in place are market-oriented for both existing employees and new hires.
Diversify Your Talent Pool. Diversity is good for business. According to McKinsey, which studies diversity in the workplace, “the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.” If you haven’t already, update your recruiting practices to draw from a broader, diverse pool of qualified candidates.
Provide an Office Employees Want To Come To. Virtual meetings can’t replace in-person collaboration, mentorship, and company culture. Attract employees to the office with a high-quality, inviting workspace in a desired location (ideally close to where they live to help them avoid long commutes). According to NAIOP’s Office Space Demand Forecast, Q2 2022, “Class A buildings are driving net absorption rates in many parts of the country, such as the Sun Belt, and firms consider quality office space necessary to attract skilled employees.” Look for buildings with experiences and amenities employees generally don’t have at home, like social space for social interaction, wired and furnished outdoor workspace, a fitness center, and an air filtration system.
Investing in the growth of your employees, and focusing on meeting their needs, can help you navigate this tight labor market, and be good for business.
Will Hendrickson is the managing director of Granite Properties.