The Great Retention

As we close out 2021 and look ahead to 2022, at CBRE we’re looking at The Great Retention – it’s a win for businesses and employees and is the foundation for the future of work.

20 Dec 2021

By Anne Bach

The Great Retention

‘The great resignation is coming’ warned Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, in a Bloomberg Businessweek article earlier this year. Like a stone rolling downhill, this narrative has gathered pace as each month competes to get the highest number of Americans to quit their jobs as reported by U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This trend has been reported all over the globe with whispers that it will soon reach our shores.

Like any story there are many sides, angles and variations. As we close out 2021 and look ahead to 2022, at CBRE we’re looking at The Great Retention – it’s a win for businesses and employees and is the foundation for the future of work.

Three dimensions of health

At CBRE our Pacific Property Management team has seen an eight percent year-on-year headcount growth. So what’s attracting and retaining our people? And how can other organisations do the same?

The Great Retention is based on three dimensions of health - physical, social and mental. Organisations who have adjusted and adapted to the seismic shifts in our mindset towards work and our daily routines are those who will benefit.

Let’s take a look in more detail.

1. Physical

As a global leader in commercial real estate services and investments we know the importance of a safe workplace. Since the pandemic began, we adapted our approach to building management in line with changing requirements. From building communication, re-entry plans, dedicated entry and exits to QR codes, touchless hand sanitiser dispensers, increased cleaning to high touch points. Going into 2022, overall building health – including ventilation and HVAC maintenance programs – will remain a key focus to continue to promote confidence in returning to work.

The Great Retention is also about how we use the physical space and buildings inspire and facilitate connection and collaboration.

We are wired to connect, and the physical is bound up with social. As we have all discovered during lockdown it’s not the same connecting with colleagues, friends and family behind a flat two-dimensional screen, especially as most experts agree that 70% to 93% of all communication is nonverbal.

The Great Retention is about the return to office. CBRE’s 2021 Asia Pacific Occupier Sentiment Survey found that respondents continue to believe that compared to remote working, the office is more effective in supporting collaboration (83%), team productivity (75%), employee engagement (71%) and innovation (58%).

2. Social 

The Great Retention is about people. It’s about retaining, growing and developing our talent. It’s about creating a sense of purpose, connection and belonging.

  • Love Life With Leave
    The Great Retention means avoiding burnout. During lockdown CBRE introduced Wellness Wednesdays, encouraging our teams to power off their laptops at lunchtime on a Wednesday and take some time out, without logging any leave. We also have a bi-annual Love Life With Leave photo competition which encourages employees to share photos of their leave, for the chance to win prizes. This year our themes were ‘winter wonderland’ and ‘summer social’. You can see some of our great team on our Instagram account.

  • Flexibility
    The Great Retention is built on flexibility and trust. Flexibility is no longer a fixed, ridged contractual arrangement. Flexible finally means flexible!

    It isn’t always about working from home or doing the school pick-up. It’s about making work fit into your life – a work-life blend instead of an (often lopsided) balancing act. It’s individual and there is no one size fits all.
  • Culture
    The Great Retention is about creating a culture of praise and recognition. The late Peter Drucker said ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and at CBRE we believe it. With a shared foundation of respect, integrity, service and excellence—values we call RISE, we build leadership and management capability for feedback and reward and recognise efforts.
  • DE&I is key
    The Great Retention is about attracting and retaining all people. We believe the more perspectives we have, the more dimensions we see. We’re committed to building diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) in our organisation and leading our industry with action. This year, we hired our first DE&I manager in Pacific whose focus is to drive engagement with Indigenous communities as well as drive gender and LGBTQI cultural diversity.

    We have CBRE employee network groups, including: BE@CBRE (Building Equality LGBTQI+ Group), Women’s Network groups, NextGen Groups and First Nation Peoples Groups. In 2022 we plan to expand these network groups and engage diverse thinking from our employees.

    We partner with external organisations and sponsors such as Out for Australia, Pride in Diversity, CareerTrackers, Supply Nation, InterBuild, Chief Executive Women and Property Council of Australia.

3. Mental

The Great Retention is about supporting positive mental health and creating psychological safety. It’s about having open and honest conversations about mental health at the forefront of our global leadership.

At CBRE we have a Be Well program created in Australia and adopted globally, which provides information, training and links to professional bodies, mandated ‘Mental Health for Managers’ training for all people managers and a Mental Health First Aider program which provides training and accreditation to administer mental health first aid in the workplace. We are rolling out a Global Health & Wellbeing Champions Program, a network of employee volunteers trained to support a culture of good mental health, fostering a culture of safety for employees to thrive.

The Great Retention is about our employees, our clients, service partners and the communities in which we operate. As cultural ambassadors in the buildings we manage, CBRE shapes a world where people and places thrive. We don’t just imagine the future of work – we create it. To discover careers at CBRE, click here.