Top Talent: Supporting Professional Development in CRE

Over the past few years, a fact that’s become increasingly clear to employers is that the labor market, the role of the workplace, and the opportunities employees are looking for have all changed. To adapt, companies have had to change their own approach to attracting talent.

We’ve seen this reflected in the shift towards a hybrid work environment, and the growing “flight-to-quality” trend that’s taking hold in the office market.

An aspect that’s often overlooked, however, is something a little less tangible than how many days per week employees are working remotely: the type and quality of professional development opportunities on offer to them.

Managing motivation

According to a recent Gartner survey, that oversight can be a costly one. Gartner’s numbers show that “Employees are leaving their current employers for better professional development opportunities (45%) at similar rates as they leave for higher compensation (48%).”

Many of the 3,300 employees Gartner surveyed also stated that they didn’t have a clear idea of how to progress their career over the next five years, and around 50% said that they couldn’t rely on their managers to help them navigate that process.

While the survey wasn’t specific to commercial real estate (CRE), those numbers are still certainly food for thought when it comes to how we manage and motivate talent within our industry.

The development context

For us in CRE, there’s a constant demand to adapt and thrive in changing market conditions. A lot of CRE roles also require a high degree of “learning on the job,” and engagement with this process is motivated by the tangible rewards for driving new business and closing deals.

What sometimes gets overlooked in this milieu, is the inherent value in providing additional opportunities for professional development.

Opportunities for growth

While it’s certainly true that many of us “cut our teeth” by gaining real-world experience while out on the job, there are still many ways to support career development for both seasoned and green CRE professionals alike.

Dedicated mentorship programs, for example, often play a vital role in helping individuals build a rewarding career. And while we’ve discussed it at length before, it bears repeating that these types of development opportunities can be especially important for addressing shortcomings in race and gender parity within our industry.

Sponsoring employees to attend conferences and workshops is another valuable strategy to promote learning and networking. How many of us can honestly say that our career trajectories haven’t been shaped by attending events and meeting “the right person at the right time”?

Providing support and sponsorship towards professional certifications also goes a long way, especially when dealing with dedicated talent interested in attaining a highly-regarded designation like SIOR or CCIM.

Added value

From a purely pragmatic perspective, all the strategies discussed here add value in that they increase the skillset and capabilities in a workforce. That in turn directly impacts the value that a CRE business can offer its clients.

As the Gartner survey shows, however, for employees, professional development is about more than just having the opportunity to learn a new skill or attend a conference. It’s a measure of the value an organization (or brokerage) places on that employee and of the backing they can expect to receive when pursuing career goals.

Viewed through that lens, a culture of professional development becomes more than just a tool for attracting and retaining top talent. It ensures employees feel recognized, valued, and supported by a workplace that’s worth committing to.