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NAIOP Issues Report on Attracting and Retaining the Best Employees 

Commercial real estate development firms often focus on hiring experienced professionals to meet their immediate staffing needs and tend to limit investment in training new associates. This approach may be expedient but can result in higher employment costs and limits a firm’s ability to shape its workforce to meet strategic objectives, according to the NAIOP Research Foundation’s latest report: Recruiting, Training and Retaining Talent in the Real Estate Development Industry. 

The report includes several findings that can help firms manage talent more effectively: 

  • Both recruitment and training should be geared to developing and maintaining the specific competencies that will support a firm’s long-term strategic objectives. Examples include recruiting associates with specialized expertise that will be needed in new markets or providing management training to support future expansion.
  • Recruiting professionals with limited industry experience requires a larger investment in training but can reduce employment costs.
  • Firms can reach more qualified candidates by participating in trade associations and partnering with universities.
  • Training methods should be aligned with a firm’s size, resources and expertise, and may include a mix of formal training, mentorship and access to external programs.
  • Effective retention practices include aligning compensation with industry benchmarks, ensuring that employees have a clear path for professional advancement, and fostering a sense of community and a supportive work environment. 

“Firms must carefully consider both their core competencies and the resources they can realistically devote to talent management before moving forward with any recruiting, training or retention initiatives,” according to the report. “This is imperative because tactics that prove effective for one firm may be completely ineffective for another if it fails to leverage organizational strengths and mitigate organizational weaknesses. Firms must approach talent management with this in mind.”

The report was written by NAIOP Research Foundation Distinguished Fellows Mariya Letdin, Ph.D., the Madeline Duncan Rolland Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Department of RMI, Real Estate and Legal Studies at Florida State University’s College of Business; Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./JD, Professor and Director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Clemson University; and Spenser Robinson, D.B.A., Campbell Endowed Professor and Director of Real Estate, Finance & Law Department at Central Michigan University.

“Nothing is more important to a firm’s long-term success than investing in and retaining talent,” said Marc Selvitelli, CAE, president and CEO of NAIOP. “Yet on a day-to-day basis, it can be difficult to prioritize recruiting and training talent alongside revenue-generating activities like closing deals and completing projects. This report articulates approaches to build the best team without losing a strategic focus on goals that will move organizations forward.” 

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