Business Meeting

Skills shortage pressures real estate salaries

Employers seek to attract and retain professional staff
Monday, June 23, 2014
By Nicola Denning

A shortage of skilled candidates for positions in the real estate sector is putting pressure on salary levels across the country. However, recent research conducted by industry recruitment specialists indicates that other aspects of the prospective job can be as alluring as compensation. Employers who strategically position and promote these alternative opportunities can gain a competitive edge to get the right person.

The Hays 2014 Salary Guide reports that 42 per cent of employers plan on adding permanent staff to their existing teams this year. Such growth plans will elevate already existing demand for personnel, particularly for roles like building operator and lease administrator. Salary Guide findings also show that employers are responding in the conventional way through competitive salaries; 31 per cent of employers in property and facilities companies have increased salaries between 3 to 6 per cent over the past 12 months and 33 per cent plan to do the same throughout 2014.

A recent survey of more than 5,000 professionals from across Canada provides insight into other key emotive drivers for job candidates. Notably, research in the Hays What People Want Guide demonstrates that non-salary factors collectively outweigh the influence salary exerts.

For example, 50 per cent of surveyed property and facilities professionals expect to receive a promotion within two years while more than 40 per cent aspire to senior management, making career progression the second most important consideration in accepting a new position or remaining with an existing employer. Opportunities for professional development are also likely to be favoured given that 90 per cent of respondents are, or expressed interest in, acquiring new skills through training. Employers who showcase internal training and professional development as part of the job offer can capitalize on these ambitions.

Looking more broadly across a range of career paths, fewer than 10 per cent of surveyed professionals are aiming for the C-suite, even though more than 60 per cent have targeted mid to senior level management roles. Variety and new challenges should be viewed as key elements of career satisfaction, which may even outweigh promotions or salary increases. Nearly 50 per cent rank their place within an organization’s hierarchy as more important than their actual job title.

Staff may be reinvigorated through interdepartmental moves, job swaps, secondments or other types of new projects. Turning to monetary compensation, performance-related bonuses can be a competitive alternative to a straightforward salary increase.

Packages that offer pension/RRSP matching, generous vacation allotment and important health benefits will likely do a better job attracting and retaining the best and brightest candidates. There is generally no accepted rule when it comes to designing the best benefits package. Appropriate levels of paid time off should be standard. Otherwise, all other benefits are on equal footing and are interchangeable.

Augmented internal support could be an effective staff retention measure for property and facilities professionals who may be handling heavy workloads and overseeing many tasks. Extra resources to alleviate workplace pressures can improve job satisfaction.

The demographics of the workplace should also be considered and leveraged. As the baby boomer generation nears retirement and Generation Y moves up to middle management, different job attributes appeal and hold sway.

Generation Y rates job satisfaction equally as important as job security — no longer is work just work, but something this generation looks to enjoy and achieve professional satisfaction from. As succession planning is of utmost importance during this transitional time, understanding the elements that are attractive to this candidate population is essential.

Along with demand for personnel comes the good news that 63 per cent of employers in the property and facilities sector say business activity increased in 2013 — 10 points above the national average — and 73 per cent predict that business activity will continue to increase in the coming year. Employers are advised to plan ahead when looking to recruit in this competitive market and look at all of the cards they have to play.

Nicola Denning is director, construction and property with Hays Recruiting Experts Worldwide. For more information, see the website at

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