19 March 2011 – Recruitment consultant and publisher of the Avdiev Remuneration Report Rita Avdiev said last week that sustainability was a “hot topic” for the property markets.

“About three quarters of respondents replied that their company placed a mid to high level of importance on sustainability, with 30 per cent indicating a rank at the highest levels of 8 to 10,” Ms Avdiev said announcing the latest update of the report.

However, one contributor tied their company’s involvement in sustainability to the bottom line saying, “We want to target and build sustainable projects as long as they are financially feasible,” Ms Avdiev reported.

She said: “One third of companies surveyed have specific sustainability positions, although many would also have positions with sustainability as one of several responsibilities. One example: ‘As a town planning and urban design consultancy, sustainability is embedded within the advice we provide to our clients.’

“Specific sustainability positions are most frequently found in the corporate real estate areas (71 per cent of contributors in that sector have these roles), real estate agency/advisory/facilities management (50 per cent report these positions), shopping centre management (45 per cent) and property development (42 per cent).”

Skills shortages were not an issue in the property markets, “despite general business fears,” Ms Avdiev said.

“There is a lot of hype about skills shortages in business, especially in mining, but companies report that this does not apply in property” says Rita Avdiev. “But property staff continue pushing for salary increases, and their employers are responding with modest pay rises, and plan to continue this strategy.”

Key findings in the Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report – March 2011 include:

  • Annual remuneration increases to February 2011 averaged 4 per cent overall
  • 56 per cent of companies gave the usual full increase, but 25 per cent gave minimal or no increases
  • Forecast increases for 2011/2012 are predicted at 4 per cent, no pay cuts forecast
  • Short term incentives are being paid again
  • Business conditions have been improving, 48 per cent of companies report doing OK
  • Business decisions are being delayed, 69 per cent of companies report clients reluctant to commit
  • Sustainability is a hot topic in the property industry
  • Women on property boards – one per board seems enough
  • Skills shortage not an issue in the property industry

In her commentary, Ms Avdiev said:

“2011 started with a cautiously optimistic mood in the property industry. However natural disasters, lack of consistent government action and conflicts in the Middle East have hit confidence again. The absence of clear cut government policy on taxes affecting business and the community are having a serious impact on decision making.

“Business conditions have improved and 48 per cent of companies report doing reasonably well in the current climate. Annual increases have almost returned to normal for the majority, with 56 per cent of companies having given full increases and 93 per cent intending some increase at the next pay reviews.

“However, this does not translate into creating new positions or hiring more staff than last year. Almost half of the companies surveyed had and intended to fill vacancies as they arise, but a smaller number than previously reported were intending to create positions for desirable recruits. Moreover, a larger percentage intend to conduct their own recruitment. Staff turnover has declined since the previous year.

“There is a strong push for pay rises from staff who are keen to get more or move on GenY are getting restless, but moving on is hard when there are not too many new positions to move to.

“Comments from companies concur that younger staff definitely expected increases to catch up after the freeze, but that mid level and senior staff understood the economic conditions and tempered their expectations.

“With 4 per cent increases across the board forecast for the next reviews, and the patchwork economy not proving to have a positive effect on property, especially in the retail sector, they may have to wait a while before new positions are plentiful again.

“However, there are substantial increases being paid to top perfomers in all sectors to retain them. Short term incentives have returned with the highest proportion of companies paying them in the Funds Management, Property Finance and Shopping Centre Management sectors, where doing well despite the tough going deserves substantial reward.

“Women are represented on 38 per cent of property boards. Typically there is only one director, the token woman of old times, in a few cases there are two or three, but generally increases in the number of women on boards have been minimal, in only 6 per cent of companies. A variety of policies have recently been introduced, but no quotas.”