October 21, 2020

A young, promising engineer sat in a room amongst his also newly-recruited colleagues. Having graduated from an extremely competitive university, the engineer was no stranger to office culture in Big Tech (free meals, trips, and easy access to state-of-the-art devices and applications) 1. After several years, the engineer had developed an expanded profile in the technology space by taking opportunities to share perspectives at conferences and playing a role in revolutionizing social networking. However, the perks of Big Tech were not enough to keep the engineer from joining a flailing startup when the opportunity presented itself.

“I just feel like I really need two things to happen for me to want to come to work,” he said. “I need to feel that the work I am doing is valuable and that I am valued.”

Reflecting on the engineers comments, many of the colleagues in the room nodded in agreement. It was clear that everyone agreed that the feeling of value was critical variable in cultivating a sense of satisfaction in the workplace. In fact, employees who don’t feel valued at work are 34 percent more likely to leave their companies within the next year, according to research conducted by Seattle-based software firm TINYpulse. 2

It’s likely easy for you to imagine this individual. Maybe it’s a friend? Maybe you lost an important colleague for similar reasons, or maybe you relate to him on a personal level as you think about your own career. If so, then you also may be wondering how employers can hope to create the kind of value that employees desire from their workplace. CBRE research found that fewer than 30 percent of companies have a formal user experience (UX) strategy; yet, of those who do have a UX program, the majority see it as their competitive advantage, with 82 percent saying that these programs are aimed at attracting and retaining great talent. 3

But how can we create a workplace environment that contributes to a sense of being valued at the office? What is the winning formula for using your real estate asset as the game changer to retain great people? This series of essays will seek to answer that question.

Close the gap between what you value and what you do

Companies still struggle with the recipe for retention, even as companies increasingly feel the heat to figure it out. McKinsey found that nearly 80 percent of executives rate employee experience as very important or important, yet a meager 22 percent reported that their companies excel at creating this differentiated experience. The approach to retaining talent has often been to pile on workplace amenities without consideration for what people really value: the ability to do great work. 4

Leading companies who partner with Host deliver services that transcend typical workplace amenities, making the workplace a destination. By prioritizing people over tasks, we maintain a deep understanding of who employees are and exactly how they want to be supported. Our boots-on-the-ground hospitality experts work in conjunction with our mobile app to remove obstacles and inefficiencies standing in the way of doing great work (things like meeting room logjams, IT issues, and malaise with food/drink options). Host creates communities around meaningful rituals, like connecting employees to the organizational mission and providing moments of delight beyond the typical happy hours and gift baskets, inspiring innovation by focusing on what is significant to your team

Be a good student and do your homework

Not that long ago, I consulted with an organization that had made a significant investment in their onsite fitness facility under the assumption that it was the silver-bullet solution to employee wellness. They were confused when day in and day out, the fitness center sat largely empty; confusion soon turned to frustration. While the company’s intentions were good, a little digging proved that instead of strategically creating a healthy corporate culture and basing their decisions on the voice of the customer, they had made assumptions about what their people valued.

Though this is one example, it’s possible to substitute “game room” or even “kegerator” for “fitness center;” it may or may not come as a surprise to learn that organizations often make uninformed investments in items that they perceive to be important only to miss the mark. So, what does matter? According to Dell EMC, “More than 40 percent of U.S. Millennials say they would likely quit a job if the technology they were provided did not meet their standards, and 81 percent say workplace technology influences their decision to take a new position.”5

Instead of making assumptions about what inspires quality work, thousands of research-supported conversations with employees and employers informed CBRE’s decision to build Host. We heard time and again that an A+ technology—a mobile application with an intuitive interface that tackles the most common challenges—is increasingly essential in supporting the long-term success of organizations and their employees.

Technology is only part of the equation. Deloitte recently found that, “Workplace fun is becoming a form of competitive advantage,” and “companies leading the way in creating fun climates are not merely throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. They’re using big data and analytics to think strategically about what kinds of activities support a climate of fun, and fine-tuning accordingly.” 6 Through everyday interaction with employees, CBRE hosts consistently monitor, track, and manage customer pulse in the workplace. By being the heart of the community, Host’s hospitality experts are also able to help organizations make informed decisions across business units, from real estate to human resources. In contrast to the example above, what if our experts had connected with employees, gathered observational data, and worked with company leadership to solve for what matters to employees? From preferred rates with local gyms to bringing yoga, meditation, or boot camp into the workplace, employees would be able to choose what resonates with them (and the organization could avoid wasting capital expenditures).

Focus on Outcomes, not Inputs

Technology is not a silver bullet, and as employee expectations have changed over time, people look to the workplace as the place to do great work. CBRE Hosts curate an inspired workplace, which means removing the obstacles and inefficiencies that plague most offices on one hand and creating amazing client outcomes on the other. Why? Inefficiencies can get smaller and smaller, but they will likely always exist. There comes a point where sending an email a few seconds or minutes faster, for example, won’t substantively benefit your work product. The opportunity to proactively create differentiating experiences, however, is infinite.

According to Harvard Business School, investment in such curation pays off: “Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day. As a result, they are 125 percent more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied” with their work.7 Organizations must adopt a new way of thinking by making the workplace a destination for each person to do great things.

Throughout this series, I hope to showcase not only the thinking behind Host’s strategies, but also how we’re leading the hospitality industry by strengthening employee engagement and helping workers find value and meaning in their careers. In my next article, I’ll dive into the value of delight in the workplace and how Host helps organizations combine productivity with memorable moments to create an ideal worklife.


1 https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/443262/2018%20Employee%20Retention%20Report.pdf

2 https://researchgateway.cbre.com/Layouts/GKCSearch/DownLoadPublicUrl.ashx

3 https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2017/improving-the-employee-experience-culture-engagement.htm

4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/09/15/why-you-shouldnt-build-a-corporate-fitness-center-without-a-strategy/#6eeef5c165fd

5 https://www.emc.com/collateral/whitepaper/workforce-transformation.pdf

6 https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/topics/talent/making-work-fun-competitive-advantage.html?id=us:2pm:3lp:myilafy19:eng:em:fow:s:funyet:fow:custom:031519:500282

7 https://hbr.org/2017/03/great-companies-obsess-over-productivity-not-efficiency

Ashley Lippitt is Head of Host Labs, our cross-functional innovation hub. In this role, Ashley tests and refines current state and cultivates wonderful ideas to drive holistic and future-looking strategies that enable CBRE to create amazing workplace experiences. Before Host, Ashley was a Director in CBRE’s Workplace practice, with specialized expertise in experience strategy consulting. Prior to joining CBRE, she led organizational transformation, policy, program development and research efforts across the educational landscape from pre-K through post-secondary. Ashley, her husband and their three young children live in Seattle. That said, Ashley is an avid and lifelong fan of her hometown Philadelphia sports teams (and she is unlikely to let you forget it).