A look into the future

Dr Reinhard Kutscher on employees as the most important asset in the real estate sector

For some time now, real estate firms in Germany have been feeling how tight the labour market is in the country – at almost every level of the value chain typical of our industry, from planning to construction to the investment and management of our assets.

And there’s more. The lack of skilled employees is affecting Germany during a phase of major upheaval. Digitisation in all of its forms is posing immense challenges to nearly every sector. Investments in technology and above all in qualified employees will be indispensable if companies wish to succeed on the market. Faced with this competition, what are our chances? They’re better, in any event, than certain pessimists would have us believe. That’s because real estate firms are in a good position to offer today’s employees what is truly important to them. First come the conventional advantages: good pay, excellent benefits, a workplace that is both modern and secure, transparent and flexible career opportunities and outstanding opportunities for training and continuing education. There’s no doubt that all of this is important to today’s applicants and employees. But people’s expectations for a fulfilling career these days – and certainly even more so in the future – go far beyond that. Here are four examples.

First, globalisation is not an abstract concept to the generation of highly-educated 20- to 40-year olds. Many of them travelled to other countries while they were still young people at school, in training or at university. Today’s applicants thus usually consider international contacts and working in international teams to be extremely attractive. Real estate investors and asset managers that are active internationally can offer all of this – and they even define internationalism as a job requirement. Second, showing societal responsibility in the professional context as well as in one’s personal life is increasingly important to the younger generation. Sustainable company management, responsible investing and values such as respect for other people, a spirit of partnership and professionalism in dealings both inside and outside the workplace can therefore be very convincing arguments when it comes to recruiting – and above all retaining – employees.

Third, keeping talented employees once they have been hired offers one of the best opportunities for being more independent of the tough competition for talent. Managers today must keep a close eye on the needs of their employees and show an interest in those needs, not just at the professional level but also holistically. Many companies in our industry already possess the necessary personnel management tools for this: very flexible working models that make it possible to achieve a work-family balance, as well as other options such as mobile work or sabbaticals.

Fourth, the deliberate, targeted promotion of female employees and applicants offers enormous opportunities for our industry, which is still dominated by men. Any company that considers it self-evident to pay women under the same conditions as their male colleagues, that includes both men and women in its teams, that encourages women’s interest in management positions and offers them opportunities for promotion will broaden the field of applicants and increase female employees’ loyalty to the company.

Our industry moves enormous amounts of capital. But all of us know that our most important capital has always been the diverse talents and dedication of all of our employees.

This real estate magazine has focused on people for more than 20 years. The primary concern of everyone responsible for producing it has always been to show and explain the major trends and developments that influence the real estate industry. Sustainability, digitisation, risk management – those are only a few of the subjects that places and spaces was among the first to cover, even before their consequences had become apparent. I would like to thank the entire team – both authors and editors – for the look into the future that they have offered. After I leave Union Investment at the end of the year, I will continue to be a curious and faithful reader, eager to find out more about the issues of the future.

With thanks and best wishes
Dr Reinhard Kutscher

Title image: Union Investment/Ulrich Schaarschmidt

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