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Tech of a Life Edition One: Overcoming recruitment challenges in the property sector
OVERCOMING RECRUITMENT CHALLENGES IN THE PROPERTY SECTOR
Joanne Tattum, Head of Estate Agents Sector at leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny
With vacancies increasing and applications declining for roles in Estate Agencies, it’s getting difficult for the sector to juggle the stresses and strains of a busy market alongside recruitment and retention challenges.
Money is no longer the only driving factor for applicants. After a very big year for the property industry, and with agent burnout at an all-time high, factors like company culture and wellbeing are becoming increasingly important for potential employees. It’s more important than ever for agencies to retain great people and to be as attractive as possible to potential recruits.
Joanne Tattum, Head of Estate Agents Sector at leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny, shares her advice on how to best deal with the struggles of hiring Estate Agents in 2022, and how to create a great environment for future employees.
2022 brings fresh challenges for the sector
Britain’s housing market has had the strongest start to a year since 2005 with annual house prices increasing by 11.2%* and demand not slowing down, according to Nationwide.
This continued market boom leaves Estate Agents in high demand and consumers with high expectations – which is resulting in more work pressures, stress and long hours for many.
Indeed’s Work Happiness Score** suggested that there had been a shift with more people putting happiness at the forefront of their career and work choices since the pandemic. Concerningly, nearly threequarters (72%) of people admitted that workplace unhappiness had negatively impacted their physical and/or mental wellbeing in 2021.
There were significant factors that influenced wellbeing in work environments highlighted in the report, including flexibility, purpose and support. So how can Estate Agencies attract and retain the best talent?
Seize the opportunity
Recruitment across the board is a battle at the moment and the war for talent is huge. It’s a catch-22 for agents – they need more resources to cope with the spike in demand and to win instructions in a low stock market but are too timepoor to focus on recruitment, conduct interviews or onboard and train new recruits. Whilst it can be daunting, this spike provides a good opportunity for agencies to look critically at their operations and determine how they can be more efficient in other ways to reserve employees’ precious time for the most valuable tasks. Not only will this help to free agents up to do more of the tasks that add real value to the business, but it should help to reduce admin hours and overtime, which will help to improve employee wellbeing. Outsourcing, technology, digital processes all go a long way to freeing up your best people – it could be time to press reset and look at the whole business instead of just the recruitment issues in silo.
Out of office matters too
The pandemic has taught us some stark life lessons over the last couple of years, with people valuing work/life balance now more than ever. Agents have been time-poor for a while, but even more so recently; they’re overstretched and desperately trying to avoid burnout. According to a recent report from Clear Review, more than half of UK-based employees (51%) would consider leaving their work for employers that offer better support for stress and burnout. If you, as an Estate Agency, can show that you understand this and that wellbeing is embedded within your culture, you’re onto a winner. Also, use world-class customer service as a point of differentiation – if your clients are happy, then generally, your staff are too, and you can’t put a price on that.
High salaries and bonuses are great and are still important, but isn’t what all applicants are looking for in a new role – they want to feel part of something and valued. With so many vacant roles, it’s important to look at your employer brand strategy and how you can stand out from the crowd – not just with what benefits you can offer, but with the commitment you make to your team.
Simple and seamless
It’s important to ensure your recruitment process is as structured and seamless as possible. If your staff are all tied up on the phone with clients, offer jobseekers another communication channel, such as live chat or even email, to get the conversation going. Opening up the communication will be hugely valuable to help triage enquiries and reassure applicants that their interest is valued, and that you want to find out more about them.
Think outside the box
For many agents, outsourced support and technology is the answer to maintaining balance and service levels when resources are low. Use outsourcing to your advantage to qualify leads, provide detailed quotes, convert enquiries, and to input the relevant data into your CRM – taking the headache away from the places you can control so that you can focus your attention on the bigger picture. It’s not just about helping your team, it’s a huge benefit and a great message to potential recruits that you’re driving your business with them and their wellbeing at the heart. Recognising the need for change and your staff’s hard work is key in retaining your best talent and allowing your team to thrive. Reducing their workload with the right solutions and saving them time in the right places (as well as reducing that never-ending inbox) is the key to happiness for your team.
Training- Not a burden
Many agents have concerns that there aren’t enough hours in the day to carry out the non-negotiable tasks, so introducing additional training and responsibilities can be a recipe for disaster. With so much legislation as a challenging factor for the sector and compliance high on the agenda, your people need to have the time to do the things that are essential to your business needs, risks, and future growth. During busy periods, call in the experts to plug the gaps. There has never been a more appropriate time to invest in outsourcing, whether it’s marketing, communications, digital, HR, finance, compliance – it’s a good thing to put your team first.
Rewrite the rule book
While the current market brings challenges to the Estate Agency industry, 2022 also brings with it an opportunity for business leaders to rewrite the rulebook on what makes the property sector a great place to work. Investing time in staff training, development, and wellbeing, as well as not being afraid to innovate and do things differently, will ultimately set you apart in a competitive market and elevate every level of your business.