The HR industry is one of the most dynamically changing fields and the role of HRs has been steadily evolving over the years. This can be a challenging profession which requires tact and a thick skin, but it’s hard to find a better career path for a true lover of communication – working with people will be your focus in one or another dimension.
We met Emma Byrne, the winner of this year’s Rising Star Award at Ireland’s HR Awards 2016 to talk about recruitment challenges within the property sector and what Savills has to offer its employees.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge in recruitment at the moment within the property sector?
One of our greatest challenges is attracting property graduates. To be a property grad you have to have a PSRA licence which allows you to be involved in the provision of Property. There’s a shortage of colleges that offer such courses. Currently there are only three institutions – DIT, LIT, and Jordanstown – providing such training. The uptake of students perusing a degree in real estate has decreased due to the economic crash in 2008/2009. Although numbers are starting to increase slightly, there is still a shortage of talent coming through.
How are you overcoming this?
This year we have introduced two “Experience Programmes” called the Insight Programme and the Savills Summer Scheme. The former is aimed at first year property students who are given a chance to experience life at Savills for a week. They shadow current graduates working with us to get a better understanding of what the company does and how it operates.
The Summer Scheme is a more formal placement offering three months paid work experience and targets second and third year property students looking to continue their career in the field and apply for the graduate programme. We created both of these programmes to equip our potential employees with the necessary knowledge about Savills and help us ascertain if these students are a good fit for our brand. Both of these programmes are a great start for the students trying to get their foot in the industry. From a company perspective, it means we are also beginning to pipeline graduate talent much earlier on.
Gen Z are set to enter the workforce next year. How are you going to target this demographic?
The job market is changing and we are aligning our strategies to those changes. Currently 50-60% of our employees are Millennials. Like myself, they are hungry for feedback and look to add value with their work. This digitally-savvy generation is less into paperwork and more into tech. As the so-called Gen Z is entering the market, we are looking to hire even more dynamic and value-focused talent, no doubt interesting times are ahead!
Savills was listed in the Top 20 Best Large Workplaces in the Great Place to Work 2016!
It is a brilliant achievement but we are aware of the competition and that the list is updated every year. I think the real stamp of approval would be retaining the title next year. It is great to be recognised especially for employer branding and the title definitely helps us to attract talent. We are a great place to work and we are happy to be recognised for it.
What do you think makes Savills a great place to work?
When I applied to Savills I thought it was just your run of the mil/ traditional professional services company. I must say Savills definitely challenges this “traditional” label and offers staff a host of different benefits not usually associated with the professional services industry.
The team I work with is compiled of the most dedicated and hard-working people I have ever met. Despite all the hard work that we do here, we also know how to have fun. The office environment contributes to this greatly. Just some of the perks that we offer are an onsite gym, a masseuse, a nail technician and an onsite yoga and pilates classes. It’s a rare case of a property company creating such an engaging and social work environment for its employees.
What kind of perks do you think a company should offer their employees to keep them motivated?
I think a culture of feedback is really, really important. You are spending a great deal of your time at your work so it should be a place where you feel valued. It is important the employees know they are making a difference. We are introducing a new performance management app called Tandem, whereby employees will be able to request feedback straight from their manager. It also allows you to rate your manager on their coaching skills, giving management a coaching report to assist them with their people management development. You might not consider it a perk but I think this is exactly what will help you retain your top employees.
Also, investment in training and development courses for your workers will help your team to develop professionally and personally and will benefit your company greatly.
What is one thing you wish someone told you about HR before beginning your career?
I guess in college I was afraid it was going to be an admin function. The role I am in at the moment is so varied and multidimensional that I am happy to say that HR is actually cool! I never know what a given day will bring and what exactly my day will consist of. I am constantly meeting inspiring and motivated people who contribute to my development as well. If you like being around people, working for and with people then this is a profession for you.
When you were in school what did you want to be? A teacher.
If I could change one thing in HR… I wish it had a cooler name for itself.
Pick an emoji that represents you – ????