A lease is not just a lease – it can help solve for staff retention

A place of work is more than just real estate. Keith Voges unpacks why your office is a living environment that can help attract and retain the right staff.

June 29, 2018

A company’s biggest expenses are salaries and leases, so it makes sense that you analyse the two together when considering your workspace. Gone are the days of regarding your place of work simply as ‘the office’. With today’s global labour shortage, the battle for talent is on and with it an innovative approach is required to maximise the synergies between your staff talent and real estate. There is a direct correlation between productive places of work and healthy balance sheets and herein lies the opportunity grow or create further competitive advantage over your competitors. The question one needs to ask is: ‘How are you maximising the value in your property?’. Knowing that the correct work environment for your brand can dynamically impact your talent management strategies is key. Companies that go the extra mile in providing this proactive and supportive work environment consistently score high from their employees.

It’s all about using your real estate to harness the best productivity, happiness and commitment from your employees. The findings in JLL’s Human Experience South African survey confirm that real estate is a strategic device and, used wisely, can help businesses of all sizes to attract, nurture and retain talent. It can also shape perceptions around your brand, both in-house and in the market place.

The JLL HX model is built around three pillars — engagement, empowerment and fulfilment.


South African companies must offer more innovative choice of workspaces to engage their staff and to help them work more effectively, by boosting loyalty & commitment. Engagement is one of the main drivers of workplace strategy globally and research has found that companies with a high staff engagement outperform their peers by 147%. South Africans work in more open-plan spaces than our American, European and Asian counterparts while showing healthier levels of engagement at just over 50%. This aside, the research shows there is a need for more activity-based work stations, away from the simple traditional open plan, to improve commitment levels. Facilities that support quiet space for concentration and collaborative spaces for knowledge sharing and group interaction are specifically in short supply and are being demanded by South African workers. Incorporating focus rooms, quiet ‘library’ areas, acoustic dampening sofas and random open meeting areas can make a world of difference.


Then, South African employees want to feel more in control at work. Trust plays a significant role here. They crave a more entrepreneurial culture that supports flexibility and a better work/balance. South Africans spend a significantly higher proportion of their work day sitting at their desk than they do in collaborative and innovative spaces. Our survey suggests that they want more autonomy and freedom to work where and how they choose. Coworking memberships, for instance, are an option that more businesses need to consider – the subject is increasingly on the discussion table with corporate clients. An office that supports agile working empowers its people and has the added advantage of driving down fixed real estate costs, with the potential to halve the required number of desks.


With the lines between work and life becoming increasingly blurred, a key part of the solution is to offer a positive employee experience. This is pushing the case for a mixed-used environment where people have access to convenient services that meet their lifestyle needs while at, or, close to work. Things like nearby exercise opportunities, retail or good child care is relevant here. When people are fulfilled at work, they feel a sense of comfort. The modern worker is living a more demanding life and the connected employer understands there is a role to play by looking at ways to alleviate pressure in the context of the work environment.

In a competitive landscape where every company is trying to outdo the next, ask yourself where you fit in the Human Experience model.  It’s been proven time and again that a lease is more than just bricks and mortar, and you need a broker that understands that a property plays a core role in every company – both strategically and operationally. The right office can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of your workforce and help you retain staff.

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