A leading industry personnel expert says agencies must do more to attract new staff, including adapting how they work to compete with the increasingly important self-employed agent model.
Anthony Hesse, managing director of Property Personnel, says there’s a crisis in estate agency symbolised by an unprecedented rise in demand for staff, yet a record fall in candidate availability.
“Last month, job vacancies in the UK rose to the highest level for almost 24 years, but at the same time, the supply of both permanent and temporary staff fell at the quickest rate on record. As a result, there are estate agents out there asking themselves, ‘where is everybody?’”
Hesse says one of the reasons why the industry is in the current position is the rise in the self-employed agency business model.
“Increasingly over the past few years, we’ve seen an exodus of highly experienced agents from traditional high street agency to the self-employed, work-from-anywhere model - driven not only by the potential to earn a significantly larger slice of commission, but also to meet their new work/life balance expectations” he says.
“Lockdown has given candidates time to readjust their priorities. As estate agency is not a job with typical Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 hours, a significant number of staff have chosen to leave the sector, often taking a hit in earnings for a better quality of life” he continues.
Added to this, Hesse believes that the pandemic has meant the economy has been uncertain, discouraging those working elsewhere to leave tried and tested jobs and shift to estate agency - especially if firms were to operate a ‘last in, first out’ policy if the property market deteriorated.
On top of all that, many agencies want someone with 12 to 18 months experience - but given the timing of the pandemic, and the almost total absence of recruitment 12 to 18 months ago, such candidates do not exist now.
“All of this means that recruiting good quality staff in the future is clearly going to become more challenging than ever” warns Hesse.
“So employers need to take a good, long, hard look at what their company is offering, to ensure that talented individuals are not only attracted to the profession in the first place, but also want to stay there through the difficult years ahead.”