benefits under the Fair Labor Standards Act to a contractor. For
the real estate industry, this means that monetary compensation
depends upon the firm and contracted levels of production. Top
producers typically receive a greater percentage of the commission generated.
James Brown, SIOR, and founder of Hawaii Commercial Real
Estate, LLC, has a staff of 12, 10 of whom fall into the independent contractor category. Hawaii CRE offers the traditional perks
of a CRE firm to its brokers: desk space, support staff, and access to databases. The firm also arranges
for and manages an E&O policy and CoStar accounts for the brokers, cutting down
on some of the hassle, although the cost of
these services is deducted from the brokers’
commission checks. One perk that the firm
does offer its brokers is the opportunity
to network and learn. For junior brokers,
Brown has paid for tickets to local Chamber of Commerce events so they can start
building connections. He’s sent more senior staff to NAIOP and BOMA meetings
and events. According to Brown, it’s an investment that the firm recoups in two ways:
first in revenues, the second in loyalty.
Commercial real estate firms also hire full-time employees to support brokers and
keep offices running smoothly. These position types cover a wide range of roles from
market analysts or property managers to
administrative assistants or receptionists.
For Hawaii CRE’s two firm employees health benefits are the
most critical. When their preferred provider dropped out of the
local health exchange, the company no longer qualified for the
Small Business tax break, causing the firm’s expenses to increase.
Rather than switch providers and potentially pocket the difference
in a raise, the two decided to take a pay cut.
But it is the flexibility in schedule that may set Hawaii CRE apart
from other potential employers in the area. One of the employees handles administrative and project management tasks full-time while the other, part-time, designs marketing materials. Both
work from home part of the week, allowing them to pursue other
passions during the day. “So long as there’s someone at the desk
for eight hours of the business day, I don’t care how they divide
the schedule or how many hours they work, as long as the work
gets done and they don’t go over 40 hours.” Brown adds that because of this flexibility, he can see one of the employees being
with the firm forever.
Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CEO and President of Heger Industrial, is most proud of his company’s achievements in
continuing education. “We have successfully built a system where
advanced education is constantly encouraged,” Thornburgh says.
Provided the courses are relevant to the job or industry, Heger will
reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost.
Brown and Thornburgh both emphasize that not all of the perks or
benefits a firm offers need to be monetary or extravagant. Brown
often gives away gift cards and other little reward items he wins
or receives at networking events to his two employees as a ‘Thank
you,’ and ‘Keep it up.’ Thornburgh highlights programs leading to increased comradery as some of Heger’s “most successful additive ideas.” The firm recognizes personal and professional
milestones during a monthly offsite lunch,
offers a forum for discussion of sales best
practices, and sponsors other team-building
events such as a holiday party, BBQ, and
These benefits do not just help to retain employees, they help to attract them. As technology makes access to information ever
more accessible, everything from the intangible – office culture, feedback, support systems, and growth potential – to the concrete
– decorating stipends and travel – can come
under scrutiny. According to CareerBuild-er’s 2015 Candidate Survey, a job seeker
uses an average 18 different sources when
searching for employment, pointing to the
rise of the ‘consumer candidate.’ LinkedIn,
Glassdoor, other social media platforms, and
the company’s own site are only a few.
PricewaterhouseCoopers released a study in
2012 on the top five things Millennials want
from an employer: opportunities for growth, financial compensation, training and development, good benefits packages, and flexible working arrangements. As Brown and Thornburgh prove, a
firm doesn’t have to offer everything in order to be attractive.
And the value of these simple practices? According to a simply-hired.com infographic from 2014, 43 percent of voluntary terminations – the nice way to say ‘I quit’? – cite lack of recognition
as their reason for leaving. Now consider that the loss of a critical employee can cost a firm upwards of 150 percent of the employee’s total compensation package. An ‘Attagirl!’ or a pat on
the back may save the company time and money. Not to mention,
happy workers are productive workers – up to 12 percent more
productive than the average worker and 22 percent more productive than unhappy workers.
However, Thornburgh cautions, “a great reward management program or benefit package can certainly increase morale but will
have limited impact if larger, underlying issues exist.” Companies
need to consider both what they can offer and what their employees want, and focus on what’s most important to create a culture
that works for both.
“A great reward
increase morale but
will have limited
impact if larger,