How to keep staff & avoid burn out

We don’t need to tell you that property is now a 24/7 business. The surge in decentralised, online offerings is forcing traditional High Street agents to go above and beyond their usual standard in a bid to keep up. But at what price?

It may be that you’re opening longer hours to catch the after work crowd, with staff being asked to stay until 7 or even 8pm to field enquiries and accompany viewings. Perhaps there’s pressure to operate a round-the-clock emergency hotline for tenants to call, with a real person at the end of the phone offering sage advice and solutions?

We are, after all, living in an instant gratification society and agents will need to reshape their business to cater for the client of the future – one who will expect a member of staff to email back at 9pm on a Tuesday night or Tweet news at 11am on a Sunday morning. It’s a real challenge to working practices as we know them – especially within smaller agencies who don’t have the support of a parent network – and it’s a change that can put employee wellbeing at risk and prompt staff to leave.

Only recently Property Personnel’s 4,300 social media followers were asked how important a good work-life balance was, and over a third said an acceptable division of time between working and leisure activities was the most important factor when applying for a new job. The property recruitment specialist was quick to point out that smart phones loaded with work emails and corporate social media channels were pressuring staff with already large workloads and inflexible schedules.

Property Personnel’s Managing Director, Anthony Hesse, commented: “On average, we know that replacing an employee costs around £30,000 and it can take up to 28 weeks to get them up to speed. So there is certainly something to be said for striving for an attractive work-life balance to keep retention rates high, as well as saving some valuable time and money. Ultimately, at a time when it can be difficult for staff to separate their work and home lives, it appears work-life balance is a key driver in keeping them motivated and satisfied.”

So how can you keep staff and stop them from burning out?

Delegate – identify what your core tasks are by pinpointing weaknesses in your agency, and delegate non-essential and time consuming jobs to a reputable third party. It’s a quick way of freeing resources and sharing the load.

Define roles – if there are extra duties – such as updating the agency’s Facebook page or manning the on-call mobile – allocate them fairly and ensure people know what they are responsible for.

Set hours and stick to them – if your agency needs to open for longer, draw up a rota that spreads the extra hours evenly over the whole team, and don’t allow people to shirk their responsibilities.

Provide a trade off for overtime – if staff do work over and above their hours but paying overtime is a cost issue, repay them with extra annual leave, late starts and early finishes, where possible.

By Simon Duce, Managing Director, ARPM.


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