The HR function in the corporate world is being reshaped in a way that will become essential to real estate service providers like JLL. In May, Chinwe Sagna, Lucy Githinji and I embarked on a roadshow demonstrating JLL’s African capabilities to clients and JLL teams across Europe. Among many defining conversations, Tracey Byer stimulated an interesting discussion surrounding the changing role of Human Resource (HR) managers.
Corporates today are demonstrating an increased commitment to recruit appropriately skilled and prudently deployed talent in order to outstrip competition and deliver superior services. Additionally, many administrative functions that were previously handled by HR departments, such as payroll and pensions, have now been outsourced to third parties. The HR function has thus been presented with an opportunity to increasingly present themselves at the heart of strategic decisions such as corporate relocations, lease renewals or consolidation.
As large organizations grow and evolve over time, they face the challenge of accommodating change in a manner that contains costs while strengthening the firm’s competitive position. Invariably, not only initial capital and long term operating costs, but the effect of the real estate on the firm’s ability to attract the desired workforce, retain talent and increase productivity, are strongly considered. Enter HR team. From personal experience, companies like IBM who previously subscribed to the value of a campus and owning their own buildings, are now operating with greater flexibility by leasing buildings other than a corporate campus. Additionally, there’s a generation gap living inside workplaces with fundamental differences in work ethic and expectations from their real estate. Baby boomers believe millennials are easily distracted and lack focus whereas millennials view baby boomers to be resistant to change and lacking in creativity. In order to avoid workplace rifts, HR managers must get involved to understand employee needs and deliver a robust workplace strategy.
Human resource impacts can be highly significant for corporates and if incorporated into a single model might lead to a very different recommendation than those based only on direct real estate costs.
Africa in many ways can implement the lessons learned by more mature markets without the cost of making mistakes themselves. In some ways, we have the unique opportunity to leap ahead of the curve and drive productivity forward by understanding key trends like these from our more established offices.