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NEWPORT BEACH, CA—Real estate companies can learn a lot from employees during exit interviews and satisfaction surveys to determine if they’re doing all they can to retain talent, RETS Associates principal Jana Turner tells Turner says real estate talent is so scarce right now that hiring companies are struggling to secure new hires even with market-rate compensation packages. In fact, RETS is seeing current employers competing to hold on to employees looking to leave by boosting compensation reactively and ultimately trying to out-bet hiring firms. We spoke exclusively with Turner about what hiring companies can do to increase their chances of enticing top talent and what current employers can do to retain talent.5.30.16 jana turner What can be done with compensation packages to entice new hires in this competitive hiring environment?


Turner: I think what’s happening through this tight market over the past couple of years is that these employers are learning a little lesson: it’s not just about compensation. By the time they’re reacting, it’s too late, and that’s a hard lesson learned. I believe it starts from the recruitment process to the first day on the job. There has to be an employee-centric culture where they engage them and look at them as valuable assets to the organization. It’s more about training managers today on effective leadership and management of their workforce.

These days, we have five different generations in the workforce, and each of them has different needs and wants. As the older generations retire or get promoted, there’s concern that companies won’t have people with the skills to lead and manage a workforce. Companies have to react to the offer their employee is getting from other companies, and basically they are not only matching the offer but also enriching it with promises for more. Whether or not their promises come through is another story, but 80% of people who decide to stay and take the counter-offer leave within the year. It’s a distress issue; the employee is concerned because why is the employer offering this now, and the employer is concerned about why the employee is looking. It’s a matter of environment and culture, and it’s more about the manager. More people leave for lack of recognition and lack of appreciation than for compensation reasons; money is a short-term fix for a long-term problem. How can current employers triumph over hiring firms and retain their talent?

Turner: Those tech companies in Silicon Valley have it very difficult because they have a big swath of Millennials working for them and are very money and position motivated—they will move quicker and faster. You could have a Millennial managing a Baby Boomer. I think that today interpersonal skills are just critical. I don’t care if you have a Millennial with you; they’re not completely focused on living their life in a digital bubble. People still want to hear, “Great job! How are you doing? What would you like your next step to be?” Everybody is working so fast and so hard that people are not taking the time to have face-to-face conversation and performance-management time with their employees—especially their A players.

It also depends on the age of the employee and where people are in the cycle of their career how much they’ll move. Recently, we had arranged an offer for a candidate in the Baby-Boomer age range. They were looking for a big increase and a much better working environment. We thought it was just game over with the existing employer, but they came back with more. This company is known not to be competitive in their compensation packages, and they stepped up like nobody’s business. We thought this candidate would move because of their working environment, but they decided that the devil known is better than the devil unknown. What else can current employers do to fix a poor working environment and retain their talent?

Turner: You can’t be competitive with a compensation package. At that point, it’s too little too late. The first thing every employer should do is to have a very good exit-interview process for every person who leaves. You will see trends and be able to detect where there are flaws in leadership and management. If you don’t do exit interviews, then do engagement surveys of your employee base to see where people are at in their satisfaction level. Work on those issues. Train managers and get deep and broad in managing your employee base. Companies have to put more money, attention, action and seriousness into that employee base today.