In a Challenging Labor Market, Compensation Takes Center Stage

Originally published by Chris Lee for the Spring 2023 of NAIOP Development Magazine.

The commercial real estate industry is facing many challenges as it moves into 2023. Amid rising interest rates, the lingering impacts of COVID, high levels of inflation, a recessionary economy, shifting capital markets, technological advancements, the Great Resignation, quiet quitting and demographic transitions, one element remains clear and constant — talent management. The real estate industry can’t operate and deliver successful outcomes without exceptional talent and leadership. However, those two factors also come with rapidly rising compensation and retention challenges.

Several recent CEL & Associates post-COVID surveys found that rewarding and retaining talent has become the No. 3 or No. 4 priority for real estate CEOs and boards of directors. Exceptional talent and HIPOs (high-potential employees) are difficult to find and even more challenging to retain without a robust talent-management strategy, and competitive compensation and long-term incentive plans. Talent comprises 65% to 70% or more of most real estate firms’ operating budgets, yet only 27% of real estate organizations have a competitive, well-thought-out talent-management plan. Only 32% of real estate firms have a formal succession plan for CEO and other C-suite positions. Slightly more than 76% of real estate firms have “concerns” relative to retaining top talent.

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