Attracting and Retaining Tech Talent
By: Christopher Lee, president and CEO, CEL & Associates, Inc.
Real estate companies are finding it difficult to hire and keep IT and other tech employees.
IN TODAY’S HIGHLY competitive marketplace, real estate companies throughout North America are seeking unique ways to attract and retain talent. Finding, hiring, motivating and rewarding great employees has emerged as one of the top priorities of CEOs and human resources directors. Among the most challenging positions to fill and retain are technology/information technology specialists. The competition for tech talent in a high-tech world is less about the job and far more about the situation, opportunity and perks.
Workplaces and Benefits
While IT employees vary in age, most tech employees within real estate firms are generally between 30 and 50 years of age (millennials and Gen Xers). According to several recent surveys of tech workers nationwide, desired workplace conditions include flexible hours; comprehensive health care benefits; an abundance of available snacks; telecommuting (35 percent of real estate firms offer this perk); business casual days; on-site workout facilities; relaxation rooms; maternity and paternity leave policies; weekly or biweekly catered lunches; and after-hours games. Some real estate firms also promote philanthropy, career mentorship, communal workspace and training, all of which can be appealing to tech workers.
To compete for the best IT talent when the hiring competition may be pure technology firms, both non-real estate and real estate industry companies may need to adopt some of the workplace benefits described above.
In addition to workplace perks, real estate firms are taking steps to assure work/life balance, expanding and elevating employee recognition programs and giving more frequent performance feedback. Nearly 50 percent of real estate firms experience recurring problems with employee retention and recruitment of tech employees, who speak and work in a tech-based world that most CEOs and human resources directors do not understand. As one HR director remarked recently, “they speak an entirely different language and view their peers as coming from outside the real estate industry.”
Base salaries for top IT executives/directors in real estate generally range from $125,000 to $200,000, plus a performance bonus of 10 to 35 percent of base salary. For larger firms and in major markets, annual base salaries for top executives/directors of IT can range from $175,000 to $250,000, with a performance bonus of 25 to 50 percent of base salary. Base salaries for IT managers range from $90,000 to $125,000, plus an 8 to 20 percent performance bonus. For larger firms and in major markets, annual base salaries for IT managers can range from $115,000 to $135,000, with a 15 to 25 percent performance bonus.
Tech talent is often harder to find than to retain. Finding and hiring tech talent can be a lengthy and costly process. The use of parallel outside IT support personnel, deployment of “acqui-hire” practices — buying out a company to recruit its staff — and raiding vulnerable competitors are just some of the strategies used by real estate companies to attract tech workers. Developing and retaining tech talent is a cornerstone for success.
Real estate CEOs, HR professionals and others often involve their IT leaders or specialists in key meetings, soliciting their ideas and perspectives. Letting tech talent work on special projects (their own or the company’s) is another proven motivator and retention tool. Enabling tech employees to network with their peers at technology industry functions can be both motivating and rewarding to the real estate organization.
Adopting a wide range of talent attraction- and retention-based strategies is essential in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. “Getting it right” for the hiring and retention of tech talent must become a priority for every real estate organization. Your future depends on them.
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