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Attracting Talent in a Changing World

The hiring and retention of employees continue to evolve

Scotsman Guide

 By  Kent Elliott, Principal, RETS Associates and Andrew Reising, Director, RETS Associates

Within the past two years, employee sentiment about their jobs and workplaces has shifted dramatically. The days of most employees arriving at their desks in an office building at 9 a.m. and punching out at 5 p.m. five days a week are behind us. In fact, the concept seems almost archaic given how widespread full-time remote work and video conferencing have become.

Recruitment company RETS Associates recently completed an employment survey of more than 200 people across the country with a mix of roles and tenures in commercial real estate. The survey revealed that about 75% of respondents intend to or would consider searching for a new job outside their current company this year. Also, more than 55% of respondents said they would decline a position at a company that didn’t allow remote work as an option for at least part of the week.

How does this impact the commercial mortgage industry? In a sector where competition for talent is fierce, staying up to speed on employee preferences is crucial.

Distinguish yourself

Successful mortgage origination teams have been garnering increasingly higher salaries and overall compensation as the levels of commercial real estate lending activities have continued to rise. To lure top employees away from their current high-paying positions, however, commercial mortgage companies must find ways other than compensation to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Companies need to identify their value-add elements and highlight them to candidates. These might include the company’s exponential growth; a commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives; an enviable culture; or opportunities for quick advancement. It may require intense assessment and examination to discover the elements that set a company apart from its competitors. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods that encourage high-level thinking about the organization’s “special sauce,” including leadership retreats, full-team meetings, and employee surveys and contests.

In addition, trusted third-party professionals can provide a more objective view on the subject. For example, a search firm might strategize with a commercial mortgage company by immersing itself in the client’s unique environment. This helps the search company to understand the mortgage company’s culture and business style from the inside out.


Involve executives

Whatever the advantages of a company are, top executives must clearly outline the aspects of the firm that are special to the people they want to hire. One way for mortgage companies to stand out while seeking new talent is to involve C-suite leaders in the interviewing process.

From the CEO on down, the more executives who meet a candidate during this period, the better. The reason is simple — people are impressed when leaders share their valuable time with them. There’s one caveat: Companies should be mindful of how bringing in several executives to speak with a candidate can impact the length of the interviewing process.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents to the RETS Associates survey felt that the hiring process should last no more than two months, with 65% wanting less than a month from first contact to an offer letter. Based on this data, arranging a group interview rather than a series of meetings could be the better choice.

Retention is crucial

While remaining competitive in the industry requires a strategy for attracting key personnel, it also is critical for commercial mortgage companies to have a strategy for keeping their current team members satisfied and productive over the long term. The RETS survey found that dissatisfaction with a current employer caused 25.6% of respondents to consider searching for a role outside their company. This can have serious consequences for employers as the time, money and effort required to replace employees can be significant enough to delay firms from reaching their business goals.

One reason for this survey response may be that companies are neglecting their team members when it comes to compensation. This issue can result in distracted workers and can cost companies key personnel. Some mortgage professionals earn higher salaries than the people interviewing them for a position, which can cause dissatisfaction among in-place employees.

Also, at a time when the cost of mortgage debt is rising, salaries at these companies may be decreasing. This means that more people may be looking to leave a stagnant desk. In these times, retaining talent becomes critically important. To combat this issue, management must have a plan in place to keep the current team happy and motivated. This means examining everything from the corporate culture to compensation, benefits and amenities.

More resources

Given the competitive hiring environment in the mortgage markets, locating candidates who will help companies grow and thrive can be challenging. Although developing the right talent acquisition strategy can help, many firms don’t have the time or networking capabilities to identify candidates who are not actively looking to leave their posts but could be enticed if they knew what was available.

This is where professional-services companies can make a measurable difference, especially for employers whose names are not as easily recognizable in the commercial mortgage industry. For example, there are instances when a company with a low name-recognition factor signed a candidate working for a company with a high recognition factor, simply because the recruiting firm was able to highlight the many opportunities that the less-recognized company offered and the high-profile employer did not.

In today’s job market, commercial mortgage companies must utilize well-thought-out strategies to draw in the best and brightest candidates. By highlighting their differentiating factors, formulating a retention plan, and pulling in additional resources to identify and attract talent, they can maintain strong teams that keep them at the top of their industry. ●