Recruiting, Training and Retaining Talent in the Real Estate Development Industry

By: Mariya Letdin, Ph.D., Dustin C. Read, Ph.D., J.D. and Spenser Robinson, DBA

Release Date: June 2024

Real estate firms of all kinds rely on their employees to grow and thrive. The importance of talent is even more pronounced in the commercial real estate development industry, where employees’ abilities and personal judgment make the difference between successful projects, those that fail to meet investor expectations and those that never make it off the drawing board. A commercial real estate firm’s ability to recruit, train and retain talent is therefore a critical source of competitive advantage.

The NAIOP Research Foundation commissioned this report to examine best practices in recruitment, training and retention for commercial real estate development firms. The study draws on interviews and focus groups with developers, interviews with executive recruiters, and a survey of NAIOP members. The report identifies several ways that firms can improve talent management:

  • Both recruitment and training should be geared to developing and maintaining the specific competencies that will support a firm’s long-term strategic objectives. Examples include recruiting associates with specialized expertise that will be needed in new markets or providing management training to support future expansion.
  • Recruiting professionals with limited industry experience requires a larger investment in training but can reduce long-term employment costs.
  • Firms can expand recruitment pools by participating in trade associations and partnerships with universities.
  • Training methods should be aligned with a firm’s size, resources and expertise, and may include a mix of formal training, mentorship, and access to external programs.
  • Effective retention practices include aligning compensation with industry benchmarks, ensuring that employees have a clear path for professional advancement, and fostering a sense of community and supportive work environment.