Commercial real estate tends to be dominated by the Baby Boomer crowd, but that changes a little bit more every year. The next generation is entering your workforce—maybe you already have a few on your team. Is your brokerage keeping up with the changes?
This may well mean that the dynamic of your current commercial real estate brokerage will need to shift a bit to attract younger brokers. It’s worth putting yourself in their shoes for a second and trying to understand where they’re coming from and what they want.
SVN recently surveyed over 300 millennials (i.e. Generation Y, those born between 1980 to 1995) from all over the United States, Canada and South America, specifically asking them about commission-based careers and what they’re looking for in a future employer.
What they found out about how Generation Y thinks may surprise you.
How are millennials different?
Harvard University’s Institute of Politics did a study last year that showed that nearly half of all millennials believe the American Dream is dead. Many attribute this shift in philosophy to the rising costs of student debt, the declining middle class, and the drop in income status among 18 to 29 year-olds, the largest among all age groups since 1971.
Not only that, but a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that inflation-adjusted hourly wages for new graduates in 2013 were lower than in the late 1990s.
For many recent graduates, the American Dream is simply more mythology than reality. The question becomes: how can we make it come alive for this next generation in a way that motivates and excites them professionally?
What millennials value
Millennials as a group are concerned with more than just high earnings, benefits and a path to promotion. SVN reports that this generation values a more collaborative environment that fosters teamwork, ongoing training and mentorship, and flexibility in hours and location. Gen Y also puts a good deal of weight on issues likes equality, diversity and culture.
SVN offers this advice for commercial real estate firms looking to attract and retain millennial candidates:
- Expand your commission-based recruiting pool. With many top candidates hampered by student loans, the number of individuals who feel they can take on a commission-only job is decreasing.
- Create a collaborative work environment through common goals, brainstorming and problem-solving sessions. Bolster this with collaborative tools and workplace design.
- Boost your entrepreneurial spirit by rewarding innovation, supporting risk-taking and encouraging employees to think like owners.
- Diversify your recruiting pools, your existing employee base, your leadership and your board of directors.
- Ensure that upper management is transparent, ethical and open to mentorship programs.
- Demystify management and create a clear path for advancement.
- Highlight the high earnings potential and the training programs available to help millennials succeed.
- Provide flexibility in work hours and locations by moving to a results-oriented, “core hours” system and cloud technology.
- Incorporate conscious capitalism into your company mission and vision.
- Engage in ongoing dialogue with millennials. Establish a coaching relationship with younger employees instead of the classic “command and control.”
As you can see, the CRE industry needs to be proactive in planning for its future if it hopes to attract talented young brokers. While the next generation has different priorities, with some adjustment you can transition your culture to support current and future employees—allowing your brokerage to compete effectively for millennial talent, and ensuring that it thrives in the years to come.