Drawing in the best employees is critical to the success of any business. Though we offer competitive salaries and packages, we at GreenOak Real Estate aren’t necessarily the industry leaders in compensation.

So how do we have highly productive and happy teams in cities like Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and New York?

In a nutshell, we look for people with entrepreneurial drive first, then give them the opportunity to own their decisions and see their contributions to the big picture. Here are five ways we’ve made sure the best sign on and stay with us, in every country and at every level.


1) People are interested in the whole opportunity, not just salary

Salary isn’t the most important factor, but it’s worth addressing briefly. Every company needs to be in the strike zone of the market. You can’t expect to pay 50% less below market rates year over year and expect your best and brightest to stay. But offer a fair compensation factor, and the other intangibles will help the retention of those you would like to stay.  

More importantly, we should never forget that employees need to match the company culture. People are realizing more and more that with so many hours spent at work, they should enjoy their peers. To ensure a candidate is the right fit, we take people to baseball games, concerts, and other forms of torture, all to see how they will interact in various environments.

Factors such as a good reputation, or even the personalities of those in leadership roles, are also significant.


2) Prove your business has a future, and showcase their place in it

Once you’ve shown how candidates can have a role in the present, give them a vision for the future. People just signing on will want to know that your business will be around–and be thriving–in several years. While you are sitting on the hiring side of the table, be prepared to be interviewed by the candidate, too. Even junior level hires might ask about long-term strategy, annual growth, and the overall position of the company. This is a good sign.

Employees want to feel like they not only work somewhere but contribute something measureable through their work. By being transparent about the company’s actual performance and projected future, you’re also inviting employees to picture themselves in a successful role later on.

Talking about the future creates a feeling of job security, but more than that, it introduces holistic, long-term thinking from the very first day.


3) Give everyone some skin in the game

This one is deceptively simple. Work culture has shifted, with open office spaces taking the place of cubicles and values taking the place of compensation packages in company profiles. Everyone wants to feel like they contribute to something more than their KPIs.

At GreenOak Real Estate, we share greater ownership of the business, so team members of all levels feel actively involved in important decisions. One of the best ways to compete with higher-paying competitors is to look at what smaller details a candidate shows interest in. Some people will be hungry to contribute actively to specific areas within a smaller firm, and will be willing to sacrifice the perks of the largest companies to do so.

This is valid across the levels of hierarchy, not only with junior hires who are eager to prove themselves. Give people an opportunity to align their interests with their work and feel responsible for the results, and you will see a psychological boost that is truly priceless.


4) Be as transparent as possible

Using methods such as point systems and payscales, people can see where they are and a clear path to advance. We share our revenues without showing specifically who gets what, so people understand where they land on the scale and have an idea of what the next levels up are earning, without seeing actual numbers.

Monetary rewards shouldn’t be a mystery. If someone in our company knows the revenues and bonuses in advance, they feel more empowered than in an investment bank where employees wait years to receive stock of unknown value. Likewise, most people agree that bonuses are valuable incentives, but they shouldn’t be an end of the year surprise.

Being transparent can also help companies weather difficult times. While it seems counterintuitive to share good and bad news, it can help people see what’s happening and why. Instead of a conversation about crisis or transition creating fear, people enjoy having information so they can get back to their jobs. Transparency also builds confidence in leadership, so employees are more willing to weather difficult times.

5) Let teams course correct and support themselves

When people are making a deal, we encourage them to think of the performance of the entire fund, and to avoid getting too deep into their own thinking. When it’s clear to everyone how each decision impacts the overall results, a true solidarity builds among teams.

When it comes time to sit around the table and discuss deals, everyone should feel comfortable standing together, questioning each other, and making sure a decision is being made for the good of the whole. By balancing an individual’s entrepreneurial drive with team accountability, we see benefits for the employee, the team, and the bottom line.