The job market in the United States is stronger than it has been in over a decade, with continued optimism about the future of the labor market. But as in many other industries, talent in commercial real estate has been aging, and there are fewer young professionals entering to succeed the previous generation. The result of this graying workforce is an immense age gap with greater pressure than ever before to attract and retain new talent to an industry fraught with misinformation and often viewed as dated and even risky.
With such a strong job market, roles have essentially reversed to the point where potential candidates have a plethora of options and industries to choose from and employers feel the pressure to stand out and impress candidates. This situation places the onus on commercial real estate firms to offer a work environment that accommodates the needs and expectations of prospective employees and offers a rewarding career. In fact, finding, hiring, and motivating top talent has become a key challenge and priority for firms nationwide.
To learn more about how to attract and retain talent in the CRE industry, as well as how to drive meaningful business transformations, check out our discussion with CFO of the year Deanna Farnell – click watch it on demand!
A New Era in the Workforce
As Baby Boomers quickly march toward retirement over the next decade or so, gaps in the CRE industry will continue to widen. And as other industries experience similar challenges, a “war for talent” will ensue. Millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, are now the largest generation in the US labor force, accounting for 1 out of every 3 workers; by 2025, they are expected to comprise 75% of the workforce. However, it is important to recognize that this generational cohort exhibits many unique characteristics not consistently seen in other demographic segments (though be cautious of imposing stereotypes on this group). For example, Millennials are typically highly mobile and connected, tech-savvy, results-oriented, and multi-taskers. These traits and psychographics mean that commercial real estate firms may need to consider new or different ways of doing business, collaborating with peers, and communicating with investors.
Tech Expectations in the Workplace
Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a digitally-connected world with Internet, mobile phones, gaming systems, and cable television at their fingertips. As such, technology has become completely integrated into the everyday lives of Millennials. For commercial real estate firms hoping to recruit from this talent pool, technology in the workplace is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity. While some may view this as entitlement, what Millennials really want are the tools, data, transparency, and innovations that enable them to do their jobs efficiently.
Leveraging Technology to Attract and Retain Talent
A Microsoft survey found that 9 out of 10 Millennial workers take the available tech stack into consideration when choosing a workplace, and over 40% would leave a company if they found the technology to be inadequate. Though older generations, particularly in the commercial real estate industry, may be more hesitant to adopt new technology, 8 out of 10 Baby Boomers and Gen Xers think that Millennials’ advanced knowledge of technology will enable them to get ahead in the workplace.
Read ahead to learn about a few key areas where Millennials expect to leverage technology in the workplace.
Communication and Collaboration
Millennials prefer working in teams, having flexible work options, being able to quickly and easily engage with their peers, and frequently and immediately receiving feedback. Technology enables better communication and facilitates more effective collaboration due to its instantaneous nature. This hyper-connectedness and speed becomes even more critical as employees increasingly are distributed throughout the country, may be working from home, or are out on the road.
According to an Altus Group survey, over 80% of commercial real estate firms indicate that data silos cause inefficiencies in the business. Having information that is dispersed throughout the company or owned entirely by a single individual hinders accuracy, can be time-consuming to track down, and can be difficult to keep updated. Millennials today strive to be data-driven and make informed decisions. Technology, such as investor management software, can provide a single source of truth for information and house everything from accounting and property data to investor data and distribution history to documents.
Investing in the latest technology is becoming critical to attracting and retaining top Millennial talent, particularly as the market becomes more competitive. In the years ahead, the influence of this generation in the workplace will only continue to grow, and forward-looking commercial real estate firms need to be willing and ready to adapt.