Work/life balance is major challenge for Real Estate
While technology has brought ways and means of communication that we’d never previously dreamed of, it also allows us to be available long outside regular working hours. Not surprisingly, real estate professionals, in particular, feel considerable pressure as a result of being constantly available, almost 24/7.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) is aware of the intense demands on its members and a recent survey to understand the pressures the profession is facing revealed that work/life balance issues affected 74% of people in the industry, with the highest incidence in branch managers (82%) and those who had worked in the industry for 6-10 years (80%), while ‘other North Island’ responders stood at 78%.
Stress overall affected 69% of branch managers and 68% of those working in property management. The latter also featured in the mental health overall category at 48%.
Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “It’s inevitable that the real estate profession is prone to pressure by its very nature. The property market fluctuates and, when it’s quiet, the stresses on agents can be increased as a result of reduced income. While in busy times, the sheer exhaustion of managing constant listings, marketing and sales as well as being available for vendors and buyers during a negotiation often late into the evenings and managing open homes over weekend can affect their physical or mental wellbeing.
“Additional pressure is applied as a result of the requirement to keep up with the significant changes in legislation that have occurred over the past year such as AML, insulation and the foreign buyer controls. This compliance aspect of the roles for both salespeople and property managers is likely to continue rather than reduce,” continues Norwell.
Norwell says that REINZ encourages real estate agencies to be aware of the challenges their agents and property managers may be facing, and to be proactive when they see somebody is clearly struggling and appears tired, quiet, withdrawn or obviously anxious.
“A good manager will notice signs and symptoms and discreetly talk to the person, maybe offering advice on where to find medical help. Many agencies have comprehensive support mechanisms in place now, but it requires ongoing vigilance to ensure valued members of the team do not slip through the cracks,” she continues.
Real estate professionals who feel the need to be constantly available may not be sleeping enough, getting a good diet, exercising or taking time out for relaxation.
“It’s important to have a daily structure that includes all of these things, alongside of work, so that health and wellbeing can be proactively managed, and homes, family and personal wellbeing are not overlooked or compromised,” she points out.
While some real estate professionals feel they have no choice but to work twelve hour days, six or even seven days a week, others, especially older and well-established agents, have established routines trying – as far as possible, to limit their work to the times that they’ve identified as their most productive and hours when their vendors and buyers are typically most in need of their attention.
Operating this way creates a form of flexibility, something which health and wellbeing experts consider to be an essential factor in any modern working environment.
If depression or anxiety isn’t relieved by better time management or lifestyle changes, there are a number of options available to those who are affected.
Counselling is often regarded as the first line of treatment because people can find themselves in emotional situations where guilt and fear feel crippling. Being encouraged to talk about those emotions can enable the person to identify their problems more clearly and hopefully be able to alleviate them.
“Professionals mustn’t be embarrassed to ask for help and managers should be prepared to listen,” says Bindi Norwell.
She is aware that most real estate professionals genuinely do love their jobs and sees no reason why they shouldn’t.
“The best tool any of us have is communication and if we use it well, there’s every possibility of finding a productive outcome.”
REINZ is currently
undertaking a health and wellbeing survey of the real estate
profession in order to help maximise performance and help
members to support their people in the wellness space.