It is not an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every facet of our lives, perhaps none more so than the way we work. In the early days, there was a tremendous amount of concern about large numbers of workers gathering in relatively tight spaces, so we learned how to work remotely. In doing so, a strange thing happened…many people liked it. So much so that it has provided a glimpse into a future that has reduced commutes and better work/life balance.
As we begin to take baby steps back to normalcy, workers have proven to be incredibly reluctant to return to pre-pandemic norms and many would rather quit than do so. In fact, a recent Monster.com survey indicated that 95% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs. In April 2021, a record four million workers did just that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40,000 of these workers were in the “real estate rental and leasing” business while another 763,000 were in the “professional and business services” sector, which also includes some real estate workers.
So, the question is, why are workers leaving in droves and what can employers do about it? In this article, we will explore the answer to this question with a specific focus on the real estate business. Let’s start by exploring why workers are leaving in the first place.
Why Workers Are Leaving
Real estate workers are quitting for the same reasons as non-real estate workers. According to the same Monster.com survey, these reasons include:
- 86% feel their career has stalled during the pandemic
- 80% think their current employer does not offer growth opportunities
- 34% feel that the best way to advance is to find employment with a different employer
- 54% feel they don’t have the skills needed to succeed in the “new normal” and 63% worry that a hybrid work environment will slow their career development
In addition, the issue of workplace flexibility has emerged as a major focal point. According to Bloomberg, a May survey of 1,000 workers revealed that 39% would rather quit than go back to an office full time. This number rises to 49% for millennial and Gen X workers.
Finally, money is an ever-present issue. Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry bear the brunt of low wages, but it is a universal truth that workers in all industries are asking to be paid more. According to the BLS, the mean wage for workers in all occupations is $54,360, but mean real estate wages are higher, including:
- $73,210 – Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers
- $81,630 – Real estate brokers
- $62,990 – Real estate sales agents
Even though these wages are comparatively high, education, medical, food, and housing costs are rising and have made it increasingly difficult to raise a family on these salaries.
With these reasons in mind, the next question is, what can employers do to stem the tide of resignations?
What Employers Can Do To Increase Retention
The simple answer is, pay higher wages and provide staff with more flexibility. But, business models and customer demands do not always make this possible. According to experts, the following bullets provide a more detailed view of best practice retention policies:
- Awareness: First, employers need to establish open lines of communication with their workforce and encourage feedback (positive and negative) so that they can be aware of potential issues.
- Action: But, it isn’t enough to just encourage feedback, workforces want to see action to show that their feedback is taken seriously. For example, if employees feel overworked and burned out, actions should be taken to provide help. Perhaps it means hiring more staff or increasing vacation days.
- Training & Mentorship: Worker frustration isn’t just about wages, it is also about advancement. Companies should provide staff with specialized training and mentorship opportunities to allow them to build new skill sets and feel supported in doing so.
- Wellness Offerings: To combat the stress of the modern workplace, progressive companies are increasingly providing physical, mental, and financial wellness offerings as part of their benefits package. For example, onsite gyms, yoga classes, and financial counseling are all perks that employees cite as beneficial.
- Work/Life Balance: Perhaps the greatest driver of the “Great Resignation” is that the pandemic has caused a major shift in employee priorities. As such, employers must be much more cognizant of promoting a healthy work/life balance for their employees. These could be simple policies like designating dedicated “downtime” where staff is not expected to answer their phone or respond to emails. Or, increased vacation days and paid time to volunteer are also popular options.
- Flexibility: Modern technology does not require employees to be in the office every day. Providing staff with a flexible work environment both in terms of time and location will go a long way towards higher job satisfaction.
- Recognition & Rewards Systems: Employees like to be recognized for their hard work. Employers are encouraged to establish organized reward and recognition systems to make employees feel valued. These could be as simple as positive shoutouts in the morning huddle to cash bonuses and extra days off. Employers are encouraged to be creative and to tailor the rewards to the needs and desires of their staff.
- Provide Market Based Compensation: The best employers have detailed knowledge of the market rate compensation level for all positions in their company and they keep up with it. When the market rises, salaries need to rise in tandem. Otherwise, there is an increased risk that staff members will recognize this discrepancy and leave for a higher salary.
In short, employees want to feel valued and want to work for companies that support a healthy work/life balance from the top down. As the demands of the modern worker continue to change, companies must be flexible and creative in their support strategies to ensure high levels of employee retention.