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Nurture and culture

Attracting and retaining staff in estate agency is the key to success, says Tiffany Marmion, Director of Recruitment at Chestertons – but how do you do it?

Tiffany Marmion

Link to Comment on recruitmentWe’re all creatures of habit in some respect. However, in a business environment, and in particular the continuously evolving property sector, we have to react to market conditions and adapt to increasing legislation and regulation, not only to survive, but thrive.

With change comes opportunity and the chance to achieve success. This is why I believe that the introduction of Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) will be the dawning of a new era for the industry, in which erroneous perceptions of the profession and consumer trust can be changed from negative to positive.

Link to Comment on recruitment

Tiffany Marmion

There are many factors contributing to being successful in business, but it starts with attracting, recruiting and retaining the right people.

Traditionally, like most performance and commission related roles, salary was the driving force for those looking to step into the world of estate agency. However, we’re finding other factors such as flexibility, career progression, social responsibility, company culture and employer benefits are increasingly important to candidates, particularly those at entry level.

Flexibility

The very nature of estate agency makes offering a flexible working approach more challenging than regular hours.

To attract the best candidates, agents need to find ways to accommodate more flexible working. This is easier with support staff who are not client facing, but it is not impossible to re-structure hours to offer branch staff a better work-life balance by avoiding having to work late every night as well as weekends.

We have found that giving teams a structured rota so that they only work one late evening and one Saturday in every three has made a real difference. Staff also work a shorter day on a Saturday, 10am-4pm.

Career Progression

One of the major pulls of a career in estate agency is the opportunity for professional growth. Those that start their careers as trainee negotiators and deliver great results don’t just want to be rewarded with commission, but with promotion too, and a chance to rise through the ranks to become branch managers, area directors and beyond. The same too goes for support staff. Recognising and rewarding employees with awards, incentives and greater responsibility across the board goes a long way in motivating staff.

There are many factors contributing to being successful in business, but it starts with attracting, recruiting and retaining the right people.

Many agents already offer staff ongoing training and development through the likes of Propertymark, to help them reach their full potential. However, I believe the introduction of compulsory qualifications in the sector will further professionalise the industry, making it more appealing to candidates who are serious about a career in property. Qualifications should not be met with resistance, even by those who have been doing their role a long time, as being professionally recognised in a skillset can only serve as a positive platform in the future.

Company culture, social and perks

All estate agencies have one thing in common, they each play their part in helping people move as seamlessly as possible, whether a person is selling, letting, buying or renting. Therefore, there is a misconception that working for one company will be much the same as working for another.

However, we find that candidates do far more research into company culture prior to interview than ever before, because it plays a big part in employee satisfaction. Creating an environment where staff all work together towards the same goals and celebrate each other’s success is paramount. Therefore, assessing whether a candidate has a fitting personality and right attitude is of equal importance to their skillset.

As well as perks such as pension schemes, private health care, gym membership, incentive trips and not working on your birthday, companies which give back through volunteering, charity giving schemes and green initiatives are increasingly attractive to candidates.

We find that staff members take a great deal of enjoyment from activities and initiatives outside the course of normal business that offer long-term benefits for the communities in which we work.

Through their ongoing support for our nominated charity partner, St Mungos, as well as numerous other community partners, clubs, charities, groups and institutions, our staff have the opportunity to attend a wide range of events across London which focus on making a difference.

Many use these not only to socialise with colleagues, but bring along their friends and family too.

To attract the best candidates and hold on to valued staff members, we must break down existing barriers and value what motivates people. It’s time to let go of old habits, recognise our industry is entering a new era, one which, like it or not, comes with regulation, and adapt to ensure we stay attractive and relevant to those that matter – our people.

March 18, 2020

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