It is no secret that many industries across the U.S. are experiencing labor shortages. These shortages are further exacerbated by the ongoing “Great Resignation.” In August 2021 alone, a record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
In commercial real estate, shortages are being witnessed in construction, property management and other subsectors. This has been a serious challenge for employers across the industry.
With increasing activity in the commercial real estate finance markets over the past several months, mortgage companies are beginning to see a talent shortage as well. As a result, commercial mortgage lenders and brokerages must be creative in their employment practices to recruit and retain the best possible talent.
Commercial mortgage companies looking to fill vacant positions — particularly for midlevel and upper-level management roles — should utilize creative solutions to recruit talent. Here are some tips when hiring across all types of debt-market positions.
A candidate’s market
The first thing to understand is that prospective employees in commercial real estate finance are in the driver’s seat in today’s market. Talent that matches specific skill sets will cost employers more than ever before. According to labor statistics from this past August, there were 8.4 million people actively looking for work in contrast to 10 million job openings. This significant disparity also applies to hiring within mortgage companies.
One recruiting company, for example, recently faced a talent shortage when placing candidates only a few months apart for the roles of vice president and senior vice president at a large bank. This past January, the company was able to present five strong candidate options to the client for the vice president’s role. In contrast, by June, only three candidates qualified for the senior vice president’s position.
The significant decrease in the candidate pool is coupled with an active debt market that is seeking talent. In fact, on a daily basis, recruiting firms receive a variety of talent requests from large and small real estate finance companies. With increased activity across commercial mortgage markets, there is simply not enough talent to meet the growing need. This means that an employer must be proactive in their approach to hiring talent.
As debt-market job openings surge to all-time highs, current employees continue to look for new work with flexible schedules. According to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey, 56% of respondents cited flexible hours or remote-work capabilities
as primary characteristics of their jobs. Given this economic context, employees are using the ongoing talent shortage as leverage for negotiating better benefits in their new roles.
The recruiting industry has learned this past year that various jobs, particularly midlevel and executive-level positions, do not have to be done in person in the traditional office setting. Rather, employees have efficiently and successfully worked in remote settings, sometimes in different time zones, throughout the pandemic.
Schedule flexibility — including the option to work from home — allows employees more autonomy over when and where they work. Offering this perk can set employers apart, especially in a crowded job market. In fact, if workers are not appeased, they are likely to go elsewhere for more accommodating privileges and opportunities.
Specific to commercial mortgage companies, employees tend to remain in their current roles until they receive bonuses and often leave soon after for better remote-work opportunities. Adopting flexible-schedule benefits can improve employee retention rates among real estate finance firms. If a team member completes his or her work on time and to satisfactory quality, where and when they work has now become arbitrary. In today’s job environment, employers must accommodate candidates’ demands for schedule flexibility or risk becoming extinct.
Positive company culture
One of the byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic is that while remote-work flexibility is highly preferred, a positive work culture has become an absolute must in today’s job market. According to a survey from Glassdoor, more than half of the 5,000 respondents ranked workplace culture as more important than salary.
In addition, 73% of candidates review a prospective employer’s work culture before applying for a specific role there. And the existence of a strong company culture was a top factor in employee satisfaction for two-thirds of respondents.
Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist, said that a common misperception among many employers is that pay and work-life balance are among the top factors that drive employee satisfaction. Instead, he emphasized that employers looking to boost recruiting and retention efforts should prioritize the creation of strong company culture and value systems.
When it comes to culture in the debt markets, employees want to feel valued and listened to in the workplace. Increased activity in the real estate finance sector has led to increased stress and pressure in these jobs. Therefore, it is essential for employers to provide a supportive work environment.
Given the competition to recruit seasoned talent, employers with creative compensation packages and a positive company culture will have the best chances at luring quality employees. Recruiting companies are finding that employers that value a collaborative work environment are having greater success in filling positions and retaining talent over time.
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In light of the Great Resignation and the subsequent labor shortage, commercial mortgage companies need a focused approach to recruiting. Employers increase the likelihood of hiring talented workers by partnering with seasoned and results-oriented recruiters that possess an in-depth knowledge of the industry.
By understanding that it’s a candidate’s market, offering flexible work schedules and developing a positive company culture, mortgage finance companies can remain competitive for top talent in their fields and position themselves for success well into the future. ●