The chief of the UK’s longest-established estate agency recruitment consultancy has described the inflexibility of the industry towards people returning to work after career beaks as “madness”.
Anthony Hesse, managing director of Property Personnel, says that staff who have left the profession in the past - often to raise children - have the potential to make a massive contribution to the sector, as well as filling the skills gap faced by their potential employers.
“Even though estate agency is a service industry, if companies want their top talent to return, they are going to have to start looking at flexibility” explains Hesse.
“At the moment, we have the bizarre situation where there’s a tranche of experienced individuals who want to come back into the profession, and an industry which is crying out for them - but at the same time is refusing to provide the level of flexible working which allows them to do so. It’s utter madness!” he claims.
Hesse says that to develop the right strategy to get returners into the workplace, companies need to understand what motivates them to come back and what they want from an employer after taking a career break.
“The savvy employer will recognise that this talent pool is different from any other. These people prioritise their work-life balance above anything else – even salary. And if that means arriving at 9.30 in the morning after the school run, leaving at 2.45 in the afternoon, and never working weekends, that might be what we have to offer.
“For these individuals, freedom to manage their own schedule is crucial – which might include working from home for part of the week, and the ability to buy additional days of annual leave if required.”
Hesse says his company already practices what it preaches, with a third of the staff at Property Personnel working flexi-hours.
“As employers, we either understand what returners are looking for, or miss out on hiring valuable experienced and talented individuals, who could make a significant difference to the company’s bottom line. In many ways, the ball is in our court.”