staff engagement

Report identifies top human resource challenges

Strong learning culture remains integral to employee engagement
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
By Rebecca Melnyk

A popular saying in the real estate community is that property managers wear many hats. From tenant relations and hiring contractors to financial and legal concerns and overall project management, day-to-day operations vary and unexpected issues arise without notice. Added to this juggling act is human resources, as managing people, including employees, is becoming an increasingly valuable role along this career path.

Accordingly, the real estate industry figured prominently into the new Conference Board of Canada’s (CBC) Talent Management Benchmarking: Human Resources Trends and Metrics, Fourth Edition, which surveyed 1,700 organizations across the country. The recent report delves into the effectiveness of talent management practices related to areas like talent acquisition and employee engagement, helping organizations better understand human capital.

As the report states, Canadian organizations face three top challenges related to human resources: building the leadership pipeline, improving employee engagement and responding to rapid change. Workplaces are changing and will need skilled and adaptable workers. However, what seems to engage them most is a work culture strong in both learning and development.

Building leadership

Building the leadership pipeline remains the biggest HR challenge for Canadian organizations, and such development continues to be the highest HR priority. Recruiting the overall workforce has shown improvement, but almost a fifth of respondents stated that recruiting leaders with “mission-critical skills” is still an issue.

In response, companies are building leaders in order to take over key positions, but less than half employ enough leaders to assure the transition, especially for positons lower in hierarchy. Organizations report that less than 29 per cent of executives who report to the CEO are recruited and promoted from within. Fewer organizations are segmenting the talent pool, but the majority do look at skills, potential and performance, and provide incentives. Overall, segmenting for hot skills has decreased since 2008.

Employee engagement

Engagement ranked as the second most important human capital challenge. But despite the majority of disengagement seen among employees with 20 to 25 years of service, specifically in skilled trade and technical jobs, engagement ranked higher as a priority for the short term than the long term. As the report speculates, the reasoning for this could be because engagement is seen as more tactical than strategic.

Another research model released last year, Employee Engagement: Leveraging the Science to Inspire Great Performance, identified seven factors that make up 78 per cent of what influences engagement. Employers are urged to continue to address these areas through organizational strategy.

While it is somewhat dependent on the type of work, confidence in senior leadership tops this list and needs to be a growing area of focus. While immediate managers impact an employee, especially in retail trade and IT, senior leaders have slightly more influence in workers’ sense of pride in their company. When thinking of retention, employers should focus on professional and personal growth – a factor the model states has the greatest influence on attrition.

Another top concern among respondents, many of whom measure and track engagement, is acknowledgment and recognition. Rewards are “levers for organizations to attract, engage and retain employees in a constantly changing business environment;” yet organizations are aware they don’t properly communicate their rewards programs, and few offer a total rewards statement.

Rapid change

In sectors such as real estate, replacing the skills of retirees with similar talent won’t be enough amidst such change like technology disruption, the report stresses.

Back in 2005, the CBC found only four per cent of HR leaders cited technological change as a human capital challenge. And in 2016, 26 per cent identified a similar challenge facing the workplace.

This increased concern reflects the more than a third of respondents who rank the ability to respond to rapid change as a top short-term human capital challenge in 2016, more so than for the long term.


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