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Final Communication Plan

Section 5
Ashley Brockhausen
Lauren Cordero
Alex Elbogen
Libby Fleury
Patrick Lang
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Table of Contents

Executive Summary……………………………………………………………………………...2

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………3

Situation: CBRE’s Communication Challenge…………………………………………….......3

Background and Analysis……………………………………………………………………......3


Current Employees………………………………………………………………………..3
Potential Employees……………………………………………………………………....4
Clients……………………………………………………………………………………..5

Recommendations………………………………………………………………………………...5
For Current Employees.…………………………………………………………………...5
For Potential Employees…………………………………………………………………..6
For Clients………………………………………………………………………………....7

Responses………………………………………………………………………………………......8
For Current Employees……………………………………………………………….........8
For Potential Employees………………………………………………...…………………9
For Clients…………………………………………………………………………………10

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………12

References……………………………………………………………………………………….....13
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Executive Summary
This document provides key research and analysis on a CBRE communication disconnect we deemed
important to tackle. Below, we detail CBRE’s affected stakeholders, the disconnect between narratives,
and suggested recommendations and responses to resolve the communication disconnect.

Situation and Stakeholders


Internally, CBRE strives for respect, integrity, service, and excellence within both clients and employees,
as shown through our RISE values. Every day, we work to be the best in sustainability while continuing
to grow our global presence. Our external narrative is supported by awards and recognition for
sustainability, client satisfaction, and diversity, but we see a disconnect between our internal and external
narratives in employee satisfaction.

Disconnect
The main disconnect between CBRE’s internal and external narratives is the lack of communication
between upper management and employees that causes employees to feel unimportant. Our internal
narrative focuses on respect, integrity, service, and excellence, but we cannot provide that to our clients if
our employees are unhappy. This top-down disconnect results in slower productivity and a higher
turnover rate for current employees, uninterested potential employees, and mediocre client services.

Recommendations
To overcome this disconnect, we recommend a few initiatives for Ms. Sherwood. We suggest that Ms.
Sherwood communicates the importance of interpersonal meetings between management and employees,
promotes open-office work spaces to create engagement, and communicates to clients that our employees
are fully engaged in their work, all through face-to-face contact with each stakeholder. Ms. Sherwood can
do so by communicating to upper management the value of the employees on their team, because her
caring will drive the managers to care as well.

Response
For next steps, we suggest improved communication internally and externally that have little to no cost.
Ms. Sherwood should set goals for managers to reach out to employees and conduct one-on-one meetings
once per month and twice per month team meetings, as well as give follow-up emails. We also
recommend that Ms. Sherwood communicates the value and excitement of open workspace to current
employees who communicate indirectly with potential employees through websites such as Glassdoor. In
addition, we suggest hosting community service events with our clients and promoting employee
successes and testimonials from companies we have worked with in the past.

In conclusion, this document provides Ms. Sherwood with information regarding CBRE’s communication
disconnect as well as the next steps that should be taken to bridge the gap between employees and upper
management. Our time, efficient and low-cost recommendations should improve employee satisfaction
and have an overall positive impact on our stakeholders.
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Introduction
As requested, we have analyzed CBRE’s narratives and stakeholders to arrive at a key communication
issue than can be capitalized upon. The purpose of this report is to detail how current employees, potential
employees, and clients are impacted by the disconnect between upper management and employees, and to
implement recommendations that will benefit the company communication wise. By improving
communication within CBRE, the company will experience greater productivity and employee
commitment. Below, we have analyzed and summarized the situation and background, as well as offered
recommendations and responses to capitalize on the communication issue between upper management
and employees.

Situation
Our team discovered a few internal and external narratives and noticed that there were some disconnects
between the two. CBRE’s internal narratives focus on our RISE values, sustainability practices, and
presence. The RISE values emphasize the importance of respect, integrity, service, and excellence
between employees and in communication with clients (CBRE, 2018). At CBRE we respectfully share
ideas and network, provide excellence in sustainability, and continue to grow globally. We focus greatly
on our large clientele with our 450+ offices, 75,000+ employees, and locations in 100+ countries (CBRE,
2018).

CBRE’s key external narratives are media accolades, client satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. We
have received several awards from the media in recent years. We were awarded one of the most diverse
workplaces by Forbes and Fortune, and one of Fortune’s most admired companies. Our clients are
satisfied with the services provided to them due to the step by step involvement our company provides.
CBRE builds enterprise relationships with their clients, instead of tactical relationships, to induce trust
and respect. A lack of employee satisfaction is a negative external narrative faced by CBRE. Since we are
so client-focused, employees feel that they have been left on the short-end. Employee reviews from
Glassdoor have stated the lack of support and trust from upper management. Despite the RISE values that
CBRE has set in place to create a successful environment for both clients and employees, our employees
believe the lack of communication with upper management is negatively affecting their time at CBRE.

Despite best efforts, management and employees do not always see eye-to-eye because managers are
focused on clients rather than the employees on their teams. We see this communication challenge as an
opportunity to improve communication internally to reduce the effects on our stakeholders: current
employees, potential employees, and clients.

Background and Analysis


Current Employees
The employees currently working at CBRE serve as our primary stakeholders that are affected by this
communication challenge, because they are the ones experiencing the disconnect first hand. With CBRE
priding itself as a client-focused company, it is common for our upper management to shift most of their
attention to the needs of their clients and fail to effectively communicate with CBRE employees. Our
management communicates with current employees through email and our internal website as well as in-
person, although this is rare with managers being out with clients. When there are in-person meetings,
Glassdoor reviews explain that managers fail to follow-up with employees, causing those employees to
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feel like their ideas or concerns were not heard (Glassdoor). Communication from management represents
70% of the variance between high and low employee engagement, showcasing its importance toward
employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention (Patel, 2017).

According to a study from experts at the Gallup Business Journal, consistent communication between
managers and employees is linked to higher engagement in the workplace. Over 7,700 US workers were
asked to rate their manager on particular behaviors, and the study showed that employees whose
managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged in their work
(Harter & Adkins, 2015). Ultimately, our employees at CBRE want their efforts to be noticed and their
ideas to be heard. Employees want the managerial communication to go beyond the current brief emails,
phone calls, and meetings. They recognize that having managers that are willing to engage them plays a
large part in their satisfaction and performance.

Potential Employees
Just as CBRE is not effectively communicating with current employees, we are not communicating well
with potential employees either. There is currently a communication disconnect on media channels, which
affects recruitment. Potential employees use media channels such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and the CBRE
website to research our company. Glassdoor, an employee review website, is an indirect communication
channel between current employees and potential employees. Because of the disconnect between upper
management and our employees, current employees have left a numerous amount of bad reviews on
Glassdoor. For example, an employee from Houston, Texas said “there is no opportunity for
advancement. The company is too involved in creating bells and
whistles and forgetting about employees” (Glassdoor). These
reviews make it appear to potential employees as if CBRE is an
undesirable place to work for. According to a study by iCIMS, a
talent platform software, the content most important to job seekers
when researching a company is employee reviews at 37%,
followed by the company website at 24% (iCIMS, 2017). Also,
approximately 1 in 3 potential employees are likely to decline a job
offer if they are not fond of a company’s reviews, as seen in the
chart to the right (iCIMS, 2017). This does not even account for
the potential employees who decided to not even apply to CBRE
after reading the Glassdoor reviews. CBRE is most likely losing
out on best-fit employees due to the negative reviews on Glassdoor
left by current employees.

When researching companies to work for, potential employees want to feel that there is room to advance
within the company, as well as a strong company culture. Potential employees want stability, values,
autonomy, and flexibility, within the company culture. According to The Harvard Business Review,
employees also want to feel a sense of place identity, which can be created by open workspaces. The
study states that “when place identity is higher, employees report more engagement in their work, more
communication with their peers, and a stronger connection to the company” (Hinds, 2018). The Harvard
Business Review defines measured place identity by “the degree to which workers perceived the space as
being important to them and a meaningful place to work, felt a sense of connection to the space, were
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proud to be a part of the space when visitors arrived, and felt the space was a reflection of them.”
Participants in the study with a higher sense of place identity reported being enthusiastic about their work
and a having a greater sense of attachment to their company. CBRE has recently invested in our office
spaces to create open-concept work environments to engage employees and foster collaboration and
creativity, but we haven’t communicated that with potential employees.

Overall, if we address the disconnect with current employees, the benefits will trickle over to potential
employees. We must communicate better through media channels so that potential employees will feel
their wants and concerns are heard and know that CBRE is a great place to work.

Clients
One of the most important stakeholders affected by the disconnect between employees and upper
management is our clients. We have clients of every size, from single-tenant owner occupiers to highly
active commercial real estate owners and investors. It is crucial that CBRE ensure that its clients’ needs
are met and exceeded for CBRE to remain the world’s leading commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Our clients’ main concern is that they are working with actively engaged employees who are able to
deliver results and provide value. The communication issue of there being a disconnect between upper
management and employees indirectly impacts the clients as well. When employees are not happy, they
simply do not perform as well.

According to a study reported on by Forbes, happy employees are linked to happy customers. (Wagner,
2017). Possibly more important than that, however, is that happy employees are innovative employees.
Our business revolves around providing our clients with the best solutions possible to their problems. If
our clients view us as having employees that are not fully engaged with their work, it could lead to client
dissatisfaction and possibly losing them.

The kinds of messages that resonate with our clients are ones that show their work is being given our
absolute best. Currently, we communicate with them through emails, phone calls, and in person
interactions. Going forward, we will need to utilize these channels to show them that our employees are
fully engaged in every aspect of their needs.

Recommendations
For Current Employees
Wendy Sherwood’s focus to overcome CBRE’s communication disconnect should be to foster a
communicative environment through the promotion of interpersonal meetings between managers and
their employees. According to professors at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University,
the number one way for managers to engage their employees is setting a time and method for regular
group and individual meetings (Pepperdine, 2017). It should be noted that in order for this
recommendation to work, it must start from the top down. Managers must be willing to make the effort
and spend the time to engage their employees. Ms. Sherwood can communicate to the managers that
when they give their employees the time of day and utilize their abilities, the managers will have less and
easier work in the long-run from the help of their employees. These interpersonal meetings can involve
the whole team in a boardroom or one-on-one meetings at a local coffee shop. It is up to the managers to
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make these meetings worthwhile for their employees encouraging managers to answer questions, give
constructive feedback, and open up for conversations work-related or not. The recommendation for Ms.
Sherwood is to launch and promote an employee engagement initiative for managers to follow and utilize
with their team members. Our primary message to current employees through this recommendation is that
our managers recognize their voice and want them to feel as engaged as possible.

It is recommended that Ms. Sherwood sit down in a one-on-one meeting with each manager in the office
to discuss the goals and benefits of the employee engagement initiative. It is important that Ms. Sherwood
emphasizes to the managers that in a commission-based industry like real estate brokerage, the efforts to
improve engagement should lead to increased productivity and thus, more money in the manager’s
pocket. Ms. Sherwood will then send a weekly email to the managers with reminders to schedule their
employee engagement meetings, suggested discussion topics, and even attached articles discussing
engagement and communication in the workplace. To ensure managers follow through, they will be
required to send follow-up emails or set up in-person follow-up meetings for both our communication
team and the employee on what was discussed, ideas to implement suggestions, and next steps that the
manager may be taking, or the employee could conduct.

CBRE’s vast global footprint provides a great opportunity and platform to share this initiative externally
to other stakeholders and consumers. This can be done by sharing the initiative’s potential benefits, goals
and eventual results through social media platforms like LinkedIn (500,000+ followers), Instagram
(33,000+ followers), Facebook (97,000+ followers), and Twitter (127,000+ followers). It will also be
beneficial to highlight the employee engagement initiative and its results on the career section of the
CBRE website and in newsletters to employees, clients, and investors.

For Potential Employees


The message we are trying to convey to potential employees is that CBRE is planning on improving
communication between upper and lower management by creating a desirable work environment. By
improving the work environment for current employees, positive indirect forms of communication
through word of mouth and employee review websites, such as Glassdoor, will attract potential
employees. According to a study conducted by Business Horizons, Glassdoor is used by potential
employees to learn about the attributes of a company. The study, which looked at the most important
attributes to potential employees, concluded that the 6th most important attribute that potential employees
look for in a company is the role of management (Dabirian, A., Kietzmann, J., & Diba, H, 2017).
Improving the relationship and communication between management and employees by implementing
and valuing open workspace environments will improve our company’s ratings on Glassdoor, attracting
potential employees.

We also recommend enhancing our overview page on Glassdoor to make our company more attractive to
potential employees. Instead of simply stating that we are a global leader, we should state how being a
global leader in our industry will benefit employees who work for CBRE. Our competitor Marcus &
Millichap does a good job of communicating this on their Glassdoor page as seen below. On CBRE’s
homepage, it reads “CBRE is the leader in global real estate services,” and goes on to talk about how they
serve clients, without mentioning how they serve employees.
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For Clients
Going forward, the main communication objective we have with our clients is broadcasting to them that
our employees are fully engaged in their work and will provide great results. This section will detail two
possible solutions that will help accomplish this goal. The first is to organize community service events to
which our clients will be invited. The next proposal is to promote the excellent work that our employees
do in the form of case studies and testimonials.

Hosting community service events with our clients will present the opportunity to show our clients that
our employees are dedicated, hard-working individuals. It also allows for genuine relationships to be
formed outside of a normal working environment. In order to promote these types of events, we will need
to utilize our normal communication channels such as email, LinkedIn, and phone calls. In order to
increase attendance at these events, it is important that we frame our message in a positive, collaborative
light. We will need to show our clients that we are doing this, because we are just as dedicated to the
communities we work in as we are to the work we do.

By promoting the work that our employees are doing, our clients will be able to see how dedicated they
are. Clients will become aware of their past successes and feel more confident in working with CBRE.
The channels we will need to utilize to get this message across will vary from social media to our website.
LinkedIn will be the main social media platform, as that is where the majority of our clients interact with
us online. In one of our previous sponsored campaigns, we received a 54% open rate and a 28% click
through rate (LinkedIn, n.d.). Creating a section of CBRE’s website that highlights case studies and
testimonials will help showcase the value that our employees provide to our clients.
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Response
For Current Employees
In order to implement the Employee Engagement initiative, Ms. Sherwood must take specific next steps.
The first step to reaching employees is having Ms. Sherwood communicate a goal. Ms. Sherwood will
reach out to managers through an in-person meeting to communicate the goal for future months: Each
manager will hold a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with each employee on their team, once a month. The
other goal will be to have two meetings of at least 30 minutes with the whole employee team and manager
twice a month.

The second step will be for the managers to reach out to employees to set up these meetings. The
managers will communicate through email to set up a time and place to allow the employee to prepare
any questions, suggestions, or opinions they might have for the meeting. During the meeting, the manager
must strive to communicate both verbally and nonverbally that they want to be there and want to know
the employee and their opinions.

The next step will be for Ms. Sherwood to encourage managers to send a meeting follow-up email or
phone call to the employee. The managers will also be asked to provide Ms. Sherwood with meeting
overviews through email, so she also knows employees’ ideas and how they feel. The CBRE managers
will now be held accountable for sticking to their word by sending follow-up emails. The final step will
be to evaluate the results of this initiative in six months and externally promote any benefits through
LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in addition to on CBRE’s website.

An advantage of the employee engagement initiative is that it will not involve any significant monetary
costs. Everything we need is already at our disposal such as email, social media, and meeting spaces.
With that being said, we consider the relevant cost metric to be time. On average, each manager in CBRE
has about 4 employees to support them. Since the goal is for both individual and team meetings to be a
minimum of thirty minutes long, managers will find themselves spending a minimum of three hours per
month engaging in interpersonal meeting with their employees. According to Glassdoor, Commercial
Real Estate managers work between 180 and 200 hours per month, so the time cost for managers is
minimal relative to the overall greater benefit this initiative will provide.

While it can be argued that attempting to increase employee engagement and communication will lead to
greater profit, CBRE’s disconnect is more about resolving its company culture. Having happy, engaged
employees that foster a healthy environment for people to work and improve is priceless. So, based on the
study that was referenced earlier from Gallup Business Journal, we project that the return on investment
from implementing our communication initiative will result in employee engagement tripling.
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For Potential Employees


In order to improve communication with potential employees, we must first engage with current
employees. To communicate the benefits of an open workspace concept to employees, the experimenters
in the Harvard Business Review study first suggest “communicating the vision and purpose of the new
office space prior to move in” (Hinds, 2018). The experimenters stated that the “survey data revealed that
workers who believed the space was designed to foster creativity, increase collaboration, enhance
flexibility, and promote informal communication had more place identity.” If our communication team is
effective in explaining the vision of the new workspaces, employees will be more accepting of the change
and will likely be more satisfied.

Secondly, the experimenters suggest that leaders in the company should vocalize their excitement about
the new workspaces. One employee reported “I ended up having a really great experience in the new
space, because I knew my leaders and got along with them well.” Having leaders sit with employees also
addresses the disconnect between management and employees. If our managers are out on the floor with
their employees, our employees will find them more accessible.

Thirdly, the experimenters suggest “[encouraging] workers to adapt the space to their needs.” One
employee in the survey stated, “an employee felt the space was too noisy, and instead of complaining,
Omer encouraged them to modify the space to better suit their needs.” This could also help address
employee satisfaction because employees can adjust their workspace to make it most comfortable and
productive for their individual needs instead of having a one-size-fits all model.

The three steps above will improve current employees’ reviews and ratings on Glassdoor, attracting
potential employees. The last step is to recreate CBRE’s overview page on Glassdoor to sound more
employee friendly, rather than client friendly, just as our competitor Marcus & Millichap did. By
promoting the opportunity to advance within the company as well as our positive company culture and
workplace environment, potential employees will be more inclined to work for our company. Our
Glassdoor page could say something to the extent of: “because CBRE is a global leader in the commercial
real estate industry, our employees are inherently provided with opportunities to work with high-profile
clients. By working with our distinguished clients, employees gain tremendous expertise in commercial
real estate. Every day, in markets around the globe, we apply our insight, experience, intelligence and
resources to help clients make informed real estate decisions. We do not exist without our clients - and we
never lose sight of this fact” (see image below) (glassdoor.com/overview/Working-at-CBRE).
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Implementing the recommendation to create open workspace concepts will not be costly for the
communications department. The main goal of the communication team is to create the vision for current
employees to see, to vocalize excitement, and to encourage employees to adapt to the new space as they
wish. The main cost for this is time. Upper management can communicate these steps through meetings
and emails, both of which do not take up a significant amount of time within the workday. All of the
steps will be possible to implement by the end of the year 2018, as shown in the timeline below.

The main return CBRE will gain from implementing this recommendation is more valuable and
committed employees. By improving communication between current employees and upper management
now, potential employees will hear about the large amount of support within the company through word
of mouth and Glassdoor. This will attract a large number of potential employees and increase the amount
of applicants that CBRE receives for a position. Therefore, CBRE will be able to be more selective and
hire more qualified and committed employees.

For Clients
In order to implement community service events, Ms. Sherwood will need to take a multi-step approach.
First, she will need to choose a city’s office who will serve as the first branch to try this strategy. Once
she has done that, her next step will need to determine a list of organizations with whom CBRE can
partner to actually do the community service. It will be important to find one that can accomodate a
potentially large group of people. The third step will be to reach out to employees to inform them of the
plan to do community service. During this step, she will need to ask employees to determine which of
their clients they will invite out to participate in community service. Ms. Sherwood will then need to set a
date and time when this will take place before generating promotional materials that the employees can
send out to their clients.
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Before it comes time for the event, it will be important that she has developed surveys to obtain feedback
from both the clients and employees. Hearing their input will allow her to refine the process and make
any necessary changes. From there, Ms. Sherwood will be able to begin implementing the process at other
branches and advising teams on how to coordinate the events.

The process for creating and promoting case studies and testimonials will also be multiple steps. The first
step will be for Ms. Sherwood to reach out to managers and request reports on very successful projects
their employees have worked on. At the same time, she will need to reach out to clients who are willing to
submit testimonials on the value CBRE has provided. Next, she will need to have a team work on
readying the stories for publish.

Ms. Sherwood will need to work with the IT team at CBRE to create a new section on their website to
host the case studies and testimonials. When the website is ready, she will need to post everything online,
in preparation to begin promoting. The final step will be to create a LinkedIn ad campaign, targeting
current and potential clients. This will ensure that the messages are seen by those who they will matter to
most.

The projected budget for these two strategies will vary greatly depending on the size of each. Assuming a
team of 20 employees with an average salary of $70,000 per year attends the event for 4 hours, the cost of
each community service event will be around $2,800 (“CBRE Salaries”, n.d.). The costs of a LinkedIn
campaign with a reach varies greatly depending on the size of the campaign. Because LinkedIn ad
campaigns are auction based, an initial budget of $5,000 will suffice as a test. Ms. Sherwood will need to
review the results of the campaign and determine future spending from there.

Because of the nature of these solutions, the expected ROI is hard to quantify in monetary returns.
However, the return on investment that we can expect to see will be through happier clients referring us to
others. Additionally, the exposure we receive through LinkedIn will generate new leads for us in the
future.
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Conclusion
To solve the employee to management disconnect at CBRE, our team formed recommendations and next
steps in hopes that communication to current employees, potential employees, and clients improves. We
believe we can lessen the disconnect between current employees and management by fostering a
communicative environment through promoting interpersonal meetings between managers and their
employees. We also recommend that managers approach the structural change of the workspaces by
communicating effectively and having enthusiasm to encourage workers to adapt to open, communicative
spaces. We believe these changes in communication will improve current employee satisfaction and
positively affect Glassdoor reviews and how potential employees view our company. To improve
communication with clients, we recommend inviting clients to community service events and promoting
the achievements of employees, so clients become aware of employees’ successes to receive their trust.
Our team believes that if we successfully implement these recommendations, we will please our
stakeholders which will in turn improve CBRE’s company culture.
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