Who benefits?

November 2023


Expert - Damien Pouillanges

Damien Pouillanges

Research Manager - Kardham

What are real estate professionals most worried about?

The 2024 major trends report comes as no surprise: financial indicators and economic growth top the list of concerns of some 1,089 industry players. Considerations for the management of workspaces and the people who use them, on the other hand, are relegated to eighth place: 45% of professionals surveyed said they were concerned or very concerned about the notions of hybridization, attractiveness and retention of talent, and diversity of the social body (PwC and the Urban Land Institute, 2023, p. 10-11). All of which goes to show the relative importance of workplace and human issues in the long term.

An unfounded opposition?

These results seem to suggest that there is an incompatibility between financial and human issues. For Edmans (2011), however, this opposition is unfounded: there is a "significant correlation between employee satisfaction and future stock performance" (p.18). Also, companies that try to reconcile both social and economic performance have better cumulative returns on investment (A. Landier & Nair, 2008). So, why not give ourselves the opportunity to think of the human dimension at the same level of importance as the financial? Clearly, couldn't financial indicators be underpinned by a focus on the individual?

It would therefore seem inappropriate to pit people against profit. Nevertheless, H. Landier (2008) argues that some French business leaders don't seem to have understood this argument. In fact, there seems to be more than enough support for an all-out cost-cutting approach. In many companies, we need to distinguish between the social policy that is always virtuous and ambitious, and the reality of day-to-day management, which employees describe as [...] in a state of disrepair" (H. Landier, 2008, p. 3). Can't we find a solution here that resolves both cause and effect? A solution that reconciles both the human and the financial? For H. Landier, this solution necessarily involves minimizing the lack of information senior management has on the reality of the work experience.

The paradox of work experience

When it comes to work experience, companies seem to be struggling with a double discourse. Indeed, 78% of some 458 HR professionals claim to be familiar with the concept of employee experience. On the other side of the mirror, 62% of companies implementing measures to promote the employee experience claim to have "no solutions for systematically gathering employee feedback" (Parlons RH, 2022, p. 3). The list of paradoxes continues to grow as soon as the notion of work hybridity is included: a study of 588 respondents suggests that 76% of them consider that "offering hybrid work arrangements is important, even essential", while 70% of the HR panel surveyed express fears about interpersonal cohesion as a result of this hybridity (BCG & ANDRH, 2022, p. 3-6). To sum up, the work experience in the age of increasing hybridization seems to be understood in terms of its stakes, but perhaps less so in terms of its mechanisms.

What are the solutions for measuring experience at work?

From social audits to satisfaction questionnaires, from one-on-one or group interviews to surveys and other diagnostics promoted or not by certification bodies, quality of life and experience at work can be measured.

These methods must, however, respect (1) ease of administration, (2) suitability for the company and (3) quality of measurement (Oseland, 2024). Let's not forget that "a long-term employee experience policy implies constant monitoring of employees' feelings" (Parlons RH, 2022, p. 29). For the purposes of this exercise, we'll be setting aside heavy-handed methods (social audits, diagnostics), although we may still draw inspiration from them. Interview methods also appear complex in the context of ongoing monitoring, although the wealth of information gathered in this way is undeniable. The only methods left seem to be surveys and questionnaires. The distinction here must be made according to the quality of the measurement: "many opinion surveys do not lead to a precise and motivated corrective action plan, but what's more, they are of a scientifically questionable nature" (H. Landier, 2008, p. 139). It therefore appears necessary to measure experience at work according to robust, scientific benchmarks. The survey must be designed to be exhaustive (in terms of identifying causes), with a view to frequent measurement (giving priority to fluidity and speed of completion). A contradictory double objective, but not insurmountable.

A triple challenge

Many organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to gain a better understanding of people's experience at work. Individuals' feelings represent a triple challenge: human, by taking care to listen to the reality of work; financial, by broadening our conception of profit indicators; and scientific, by working to find methods that are as effective as they are solid. Gathering people's feelings is also a way of ensuring the company's financial survival. This is the only way to put people back at the heart of the company's concerns, rather than turning them into a disembodied slogan.


Bibliography / Further reading

  • Edmans, A. (2011). Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices. Journal of Financial Economics101(3), 621‑640.
  • Landier, A., & Nair, V. B. (2008). Investing for Change : Profit from Socially Responsible Investment. OUP.
  • Landier, H. (2008). Evaluer le climat social de votre entreprise : Mesurer le désengagement et y remédier. Editions d’Organisation.
  • Oseland, N. (2024). A Practical Guide to Post-Occupancy Evaluation and Researching Building User-Experience. Routledge.
  • Parlons RH. (2022). L’expérience collaborateur à l’heure de l’hybridation du travail : Consécration d’une innovation RH (p. 1‑38).
  • PwC and the Urban Land Institute. (2023). Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2024.

Release date: November 2023

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Expert - Mathilde Vignau

Mathilde Vignau

Doctorate in geography, teacher-researcher at ESPI (Ecole Supérieure des Professions Immobilières) Marseille
Member of the ESPI2R laboratory

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Expert - Jean-Pierre Bouchez

Jean-Pierre Bouchez

Research Director at the University of Paris-Saclay
President at Planet S@voir
Author, Advisor and International Keynote Speaker.