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Conveyancers suffering most as firms continue to pay lip service to wellbeing

13 Jun 2022   |   Joanna Fowke   |   0 Comments

Available to download now, the latest research from tmgroup, mio and Conveyancing Data Services (CDS) – ‘The New Normal’ report – has revealed that property industry leaders need to step up to the plate and do far more to support their fellow professionals’ wellbeing.

20% completely let down by their employers

In the survey of almost 800 property professionals, a staggering 20% of respondents admitted that their businesses had not introduced any new wellbeing initiatives whatsoever – despite the apparent stresses on the market and available resource.

Within this, it was sad to see conveyancers seemingly suffering the most – with two-thirds being representatives of the residential conveyancing community – compared to just one-fifth being estate agents, and a further one-tenth being Real Estate Professionals.

This was highlighted in some of the eye-opening comments from survey participants – including a Residential Conveyancer who claimed; “The firm I work for never even thanked us for all the extra hours we did.”

Flexible working is not a magic fix

Despite the much-needed cry for support, even those who benefitted from wellbeing initiatives did so lightly – with only 10% of property professionals citing the introduction of regular wellbeing calls, 8% recalling receiving care packages, and 7% saying they’d been granted additional holiday.

Beyond this, flexible working was cited – by 22% of respondents – as the most widely-adopted initiative. However the wellbeing impact of this is debatable, as Matt Joy, Sales and Marketing Director and Mental Health First Aider at tmgroup comments:

“Wellbeing support across residential conveyancing is sadly thin on the ground and the only initiative that seems to be wider spread is flexible working. Yet we have to err on the side of caution on just how much of a positive initiative this really is. For many, it’s led to time otherwise spent on the commute being spent in front of a computer instead, and then even more overtime in the blur of the divide between work and home life.”

COVID-19 has challenged the work hard, play hard mindset of Estate Agents

There’s a slightly more promising picture in estate agency though. With 50-60 hour working weeks being the norm, the competitive, work hard, play hard mindset of the estate agency world has largely put wellbeing on the backburner. However, COVID-19 has gone some way to shining a much-needed spotlight on it, as Nick Ball, Sales Director – mio and Mental Health First Aider at tmgroup comments:

“Companies such as Agents Together have launched initiatives such as ‘Healthy Mind’ and their mentorship programme to pay more than just lip service to the very real need for property professionals to support one another. This is promising to see. However, there’s still a long way to go. Particularly as the work hard, play hard mindset seems to have influenced the “lighter touch” choice in wellbeing initiatives – leaning more towards flexible working hours and social events, as opposed to the more formal and much-needed Mental Health First Aider training and similar.”

Business leaders are missing a real opportunity to reduce staff turnover too

It’s critical business leaders get this right! Beyond the personal benefit to the individual, implementing a wellbeing strategy can also have a positive impact on staff turnover and sickness rates.

Forward-thinking firms could also see reductions in their longer-term recruitment costs, as it can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 per head to replace staff – based on average salaries and recruitment fees. Compounded by training outlay, loss of productivity across the team, and – worst still – multiple replacement hires, these costs can quickly spiral out of control.

Quite simply, it makes good business sense for business leaders to treat their employees as their greatest assets. Yet many have yet to realise this, as Joe Pepper, CEO of tmgroup concludes:

“Given the well-publicised push for change, including the Call for Kindness pledge, Be Kind We Care, and Agents Together’s Healthy Mind initiative - there was a sentiment that some felt that they were being taken advantage of in the circumstances and that some firms were only paying lip service to the importance of employee wellbeing. Only time will tell if business leaders will truly wake up to the issue or let their guard down just when property professionals need them most.”

Want to find out more? Download your FREE copy of ‘The New Normal’ here. A ‘first look’ at the report was also discussed at a tm:tv special back in January 2022. Watch the recording here.

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