• Americas

What Does Top Talent Want From Their Workspace?

ByTara Gibney, Vice President, Global Human Resources

What Does Top Talent Want From Their Workspace?

Help wanted – but nowhere to be found? Millions of people across the globe are looking for jobs, yet 36% of employers report a talent shortage globally in ManPowerGroup’s 9th annual Talent Shortage survey. This is reported as the highest percent of employers ranking a talent shortage in seven years. The war on talent isn’t about the number of people, but the skill set shift in our ever-evolving workplace and workforce. There is a war for the most skilled employees to launch companies into an increasingly dynamic future. Looking for an example applicable to our industry, skilled trade workers were recently listed by employers, for the third year in a row, as the most difficult position to fill – with engineers ranked second and technicians rising to the third spot due to increasing demand.  The companies that can adjust rapidly to further develop, attract and retain the best talent will win the war.

Diversity will continue to be an increasingly commercially driven challenge in all sectors of our industry, more so than it is today – it’s not just nice to have, it’s a must to be competitive in the marketplace. Diversity will be a critical component to creative solutioning, understanding clients’ needs and collaborative innovation. For the first time in history, five generations will join the workforce and shape the future of industries to come. Liz Ryan recognizes the need for employers to level with the reality of the “talent shortage.” According to Forbes, “Real people come with skills that can be acquired over a normal life span. Real people come with…ingenuity and pluck…there is no talent shortage.” What we are facing is not a talent shortage, but a skill shortage. Changing our mindset about talent pools is critical, employers that understand this concept will be able to compete in this complex and diverse environment.

“Companies with satisfied engaged workers have 25-65% lower employee turnover. Wellbeing is therefore becoming a strategic imperative with 78%of multinationals deeming it a critical part of business plans.”  – Sophy Moffat & Elizabeth Troni, Well Work Place – Making Spaces Human Again

It isn’t healthy to settle for good enough. Towers Watson used benchmarking against BITC public reporting against all FTSE 100 companies and found that companies that prioritize employee engagement and wellbeing outperform the rest by an average 10%. We must aspire to do great work and our work environment is vital to our success where 70% of us are currently disengaged. This is a depressing statistic and on average the initial enthusiasm of an employee falls significantly after six months on the job. With rapid changes in the workforce, there is no one size fits all to improve the workplace and retain talent. In 2030, the UN has predicted that 4.9 billion people will be urban dwellers in PWC’s study on the future of the workforce and the full-time ‘permanent’ employee will drop to an all-time low (9% of the workforce). The way that people work and what they look for in a company will, and has, fundamentally changed. Employees are increasingly looking for collaborative environments with 67% of employees actively working with people in different departments and 60% coordinate with ten or more people to complete tasks.

CEO’s are discovering the issue of employee engagement and what makes “the best place to work” land in their wheelhouse. An important tool for success is an engagement survey, which offers insights into how to make a “better” more engaging and healthy workplace. Deloitte Insights survey highlights the focus on employee engagement: Nearly nine in ten executives rated engagement as important and 48% as a top priority for their companies. The focus of the workplace must be on the people the most valuable resource and the majority of the operating cost.

The engagement of employees and the wellness of the work environment is now a necessity shaped by a company’s understanding of their employees, their needs, and the understanding of the future dynamics of our global workforce. As Futurist expert Stefan Hyttfors states, “Remember, you can wait and see, or you can challenge yourself and thereby be the one who creates. No matter what, change will come.” How your company rises to meet the challenge and close the skill gap will determine the outcome in the new lay of the land for a competitive workplace to win talent.


Tara Gibney is the Vice President of Global Human Resources for the Global Occupier Services group at Cushman & Wakefield. 



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