Human Capital: A Cost and Commodity

by Andrew Heard, EMEA Research

human capital

Talent management remains high on corporate agendas, as organizations across different geographies and business sectors attempt to effectively manage global talent pools in changing and often unpredictable business environments.

To gain a better understanding of talent management among organizations, Cushman & Wakefield partnered with CoreNet Global to conduct polls among occupiers from the U.K., U.S. and Asia-Pacific. The survey focused on steps taken in talent recruitment, and retention in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

All for One

Perhaps unsurprisingly, occupiers from different nations and businesses had differing viewpoints about the talent agenda and human capital. There were, however, points on which most agreed.

  • The right working environment is crucial to attracting and retaining talent. Knowledge clusters are essential in helping corporates source skilled labor.
  • Managing talent agendas effectively reduces human capital costs.
  • Higher density ratios and flexible working strategies are key parts of occupiers’ real estate strategies..
  • Occupiers are actively seeking out new markets, as well as diversification into new geographies.

Dichotomy Between C-Suite and Cost-Conscious Occupiers

Another commonality was the void between CEOs and strategic challenges faced by occupiers. CEOs believe the right talent is important. However, cost remains a core driver. Talent attraction and retention, along with real estate, are key contributors to underlying costs.

Occupier strategies focus on an improved cost profile and superior operational environment, with a focus on:

  • Reinventing occupational design and workplace flexibility plans, to meet the needs of future employees.
  • Ensuring a workforce of skilled workers, innovators and next-generation leaders by building and maintaining a reliable and sustainable pipeline of trained workers.
  • Devising an adaptable and agile employee base that bolsters an organization’s ability to cope with sudden changes and volatilities in internal and external environments.

Regional-specific results from the poll follows.



  • 95% indicated collaborative and innovative working environments help attract and retain staff, as do culture and flexible working practices
  • 91% indicated talent assembly essential to organizational operations
  • 85% indicated human capital as the highest cost to their organizations
  • 88% are actively investing in improvements to their workplace

Real Estate

  • 74% of respondents believe employee-to desk ratios are critical to a successful working environment.
  • 40% indicated they would address occupancy issues in the next three years.
  • While proximity to key markets remains important, 76% of respondents indicated they anticipate diversification into new markets
  • 71% indicated talent assembly as a crucial factor.

Los Angeles


  • 96% indicated talent assembly as important to the organization; most indicated that sourcing skilled talent was at the top of the list.
  • 63% indicated that the working environment is crucial to talent attraction; 93% noted that collaborative spaces in the right spaces is key to success.
  • 82% said they were investing in improving the work environment, targeting technology upgrades and innovation.
  • A successful environment can help facilitate strong working connections, according to 76% of those surveyed.

Real Estate

  • Occupier densities can have a high impact on talent attraction. Higher density ratios to promote efficiencies are in place among 86% of those surveyed.
  • While real estate was considered important, company culture was believed critical to securing talent.
  • 72% indicated geographic diversification over the next two years, with 68% indicating talent assembly as important to the expansion.

Asia Pacific March 2016


  • The working environment is important to talent attraction.
  • 77% of corporates are investing in their working environments to support their talent agenda.
  • Company culture is important to finding and keeping the right talent.
  • 76% indicated that a good or excellent workplace can help employees develop connections, and improve an organization’s structure.

Real Estate

  • 69% said densities have an impact on the working environment, with 77% operating more efficiently on a higher densification.
  • 71% of respondents indicated their businesses will be diversifying into new markets in the future; 60% said talent is driving this strategy.

The above is an excerpt from our Fall 2016 edition of the Occupier Edge. To learn more about human capital, download the full report here.

andrew-heardAndrew Heard is a member of the Client Services – EMEA Research team for Cushman & Wakefield.






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