Human capital: A hot topic for corporate occupiers in 2014

With an improving economic prognosis and increased corporate confidence in the air, companies with available funds are starting to position themselves for growth and formulate longer term plans.

In considering growth strategies, it will be necessary to develop a focus on future talent requirements. There is no doubt in my mind that companies who recognise early the challenges and importance of attracting, retaining and stimulating requisite talent, will gain business advantage over those that are more reactive to needs.

As many of us are aware, there are acute talent shortages in certain niche business areas. According to a recent CEO survey, for example, nearly half believe that a limited availability of key skills is a serious threat to their growth prospects. Only a third were convinced they have access to the talent they need to execute their company’s strategy over the next three years. So serious implications to consider then …

The signs are that companies are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of the talent issue for their business plans and are making it a higher priority issue in 2014.  The annual CEO Challenge study by the Conference Board, underlines this point – listing human capital as one of the top four challenges to face up to this year.

So what will be the implications of this focus on talent for corporate real estate teams?

The key focus will be workplace transformation as companies increasingly see the value of workplace to staff productivity and retention – even if they do not always have a strong base of direct measurable evidence – given the obvious difficulty of measuring intangible assets such as human beings!   According to JLL’s Global Corporate Real Estate Trends 2013 survey, 72 percent of corporate real estate executives face high expectations to deliver clear enhancement in workplace productivity and 65 percent are charged with transforming the quality of the workplace.

So the spotlight in 2014 will be on workplace transformation and I believe this will provide impetus to occupiers in driving increased levels of fit-out, refurbishment and a continued flight to quality space solutions.

Practical implications??  Well this is an in-depth subject of course and too much for my short blog entry here.  For a fuller discussion I suggest reading our JLL report: A new dawn for workplace strategy.  However, I would give a nod to what seems like basic considerations such as creating work environments that support choice, collaboration and flexibility. Linked to this I think we will see a growing focus on sustainability issues in buildings, to enhance brand, possible cost savings (spend now – save later) and productivity enhancement.

For reasons highlighted above I believe issues of talent and talent retention will be a key focus for corporates in 2014 and beyond and so investment in workplace strategies will in some way be predicated on the basis of making the corporate a talent magnet.