From left: Anne Benge, Casey Brown, Tiffany English, Pamela Fleming, and JT Barr. | Image by Carrie Rossenfeld

Culture Quotient Low? Expect High Turnover

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

If you can’t define your company’s culture or it has a bad one, employees are likely to head for the door, said panelists at ULI San Diego’s monthly breakfast event Tuesday, “The Culture Driven Workplace: Driving Employee Satisfaction, Profit, and Innovation.”

The panel was led by JT Barr, a principal with Schmidt Design Group, and included Anne Benge, CEO of Cultura; Tiffany English, a principal with Ware Malcomb; Pamela Fleming, human resource director for Fuscoe Engineering; and Casey Brown, founder of the Casey Brown Company.

Barr said that companies with no culture will have high turnover, and while many things can be stolen from a company, its culture is not one of them. He asked the panelists why we are seeing a talent war now, and Benge said that 2015 ushered in “the age of choice,” the first time since the early 1900s that we saw more jobs than people to fill them in the workforce. This shift necessitated the development of creative office, the war for talent, and the need to keep employees happy, well, and comfortable.

Tiffany English said the current trend in CRE is all about the experience, in every facet of life, which is why culture in the workplace is so important. “People want to have an experience with their people,” she said, adding that it’s about the “tribe,” being part of a community, and a sharing environment. “Everything can be shared now.”

Barr said work/life balance is more important than ever now that the lines are blurred between work and life, and he said there is a cross-pollination within the scope of amenities in different aspects of one’s life. Fleming added that getting people on board with adding amenities to the workplace is not always easy because not every company has the ability to make those changes, especially if it is run by Baby Boomers.

Casey Brown discussed his firm’s office-renovation project in Mission Valley called Amp&rsand, a redevelopment of the former Union-Tribune newspaper building that provides interactive amenities for tenants. He discussed the importance of getting San Diego companies on board with the importance modern office amenities. “We need to get these companies to start doing it with culture — they need to embrace it.”

Brown added that this process begins with the tenant moving in; the culture is evident as soon as anyone walks through the door, and it represents the top brass of the company—if there is not a good “vibe” when you walk through the door, then top-level management doesn’t have a good handle on the firm’s culture.

Read more about this event in the November issue of SoCal Real Estate.