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Are UK agency leaders ready for the Millennial workforce?

In a new video interview, Steve Carroll, director of industry relations at Real Estate Group, tells industry commentator Christopher Watkin why company leaders will struggle over the next decade if they are not in tune with the Millennial workforce.

Carroll's role for REA - Australia's Rightmove - is equivalent in the UK to that of Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director.

The interview explores the changing expectations of employees and what estate agency leaders in the UK need to do to ensure they retain and attract the best staff across the 2020s.


Carroll tells Watkin that Millennial workers are computer-literate and that computers have wired their expectations. He uses the example of Uber and says Millennials expect everything 'really, really fast'.

Watkin jokes that Millennials in the UK are only interested in 'free food, avocado on toast and beanbags'.

Carroll says, in fact, he believes them to be 'the smartest generation to join the workforce ever' due to their creativity and innovation.

He adds, though, that because of this they have 'amazingly high expectations, driven by technology'.

According to Carroll, Millennial workers are used to companies like Apple which 'innovate, improve and move at speed'.

"They will not tolerate leaders and companies that are not moving with the times."

He estimates that the average Millennial will have had close to 20 jobs and five different careers by the time they come to retire.

He then tells Watkin how social media has given the workforce access to the world's best leaders and opened up communication channels.

Watkin explains the profile of leaders of the biggest UK estate agency firms. He says they are likely to be 'dominant in style, organised and interested in the big picture'.

He says they also will not be interested in the ‘minutiae’ of issues and that the picture Carroll paints is counter-intuitive to all the agents he knows.

"I believe leaders need to seriously look at the changing demographic of the workforce and need to adapt accordingly," says Carroll.

Watkin points out that pretty much every single negotiator these days is going to be a Millennial and asks whether this means leaders need to put their heart on their sleeves and communicate more.

He says in his day it was about having money, commission and a car and 'you just dealt with it'.

Carroll agrees that the fundamentals haven't changed, but that millennials won't put up with poor bosses even if the fundamentals are right.

Carroll says as social media has opened up accessibility, every leader will need to be accessible over the next decade. He gives examples of leaders 'walking the floor' every morning of the week and Mark Zuckerburg's weekly 'Town Hall' meetings at Facebook.

"Imagine having a boss who doesn't know how many children you've got and what is going on in your world - that's the disconnect of personalisation," he says.

He then talks about how in 2010 someone interviewing at REA would have had no expectations of him or the company, whereas now they will be Googling everything and making a decision about whether this is the type of boss and company they want to work for.

He encourages agents to Google themselves and their companies to see if they give a digital impression that they're a great company to work for.

He says talented Millennials will be looking at prospective employers to see if their CEO looks digitally switched on, whether the company gives the impression they would grow the individual and whether it's a company that cares about others and the community.

You can see the interview in full below - our thanks to Christopher Watkin for making this video available to Estate Agent Today readers on an exclusive basis.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    A flipside, to the debate of having millennials in your workforce, (and lets face it as a millennial could be 39 years of age, you definitely have some of them), is the way that the millennial 'buyer' and the even younger and more tech savvy GEn-Z buyer is changing the whole property game.

    I fully embrace the need that millennials have for a quick omni-channel response to everything, including the sale and purchase of property and all the processes in-between.

    However, I am a little nervous that the millennials unstoppable appetite for services and goods, instantly at the click of a button, is now driving the property sector too fast and too hard. Clearly, many companies are now being set up to feed a new type of savvy, consumer, but, the danger in the property sector is the lack of maturity in some of the business models.

    For example, iniatives like Mojo Mortgages, may well be on trend for these clients a fast track way to get a financial mortgage advice, but, they in turn are reliant on a tie up with Monzo bank, which itself is a new fintech / Proptech company with no high street presence, whose origin can be traced back to Crowdcube, (another recent online fintech company) and an instantaneous crowdfund of over £1M.

    Since then Monzo has had further injections of capital, and its valuation has skyrocketed, but, so too have the number of issues regarding its service and security, all documented in the financial press. These may be teething problems or not, time will tell.

    I suppose what I am saying is that – at the very fast rate that some things are changing in the ‘traditional' world of agency – many co-operations and inter company collaborations are sometimes founded upon organizational foundations which are less than five-years old.

    And this lack of tried and trusted maturity, can cause problems, if any of the ‘jenga block’ partnerships fail to deliver and need to be removed, and it is often the poor shareholders and users of the service who are the losers.

    Recent Fintech peer to peer lenders like ‘Lendy’ failing with over £160M of losses, may be in a different financial sector to mortgage business regulated by the FSA, but, with Metro bank also in the doldrums, what they had in common was they sought to be disruptors of the banking sector, instead they may well be the victims of it.

    I am all for change, and making the transaction of property a better, quicker and faster and more enjoyable path. Having previously been an estate agent for over 30-years I often dreamt that there must be a better way of doing property.

    With the proptech revolution in full swing I am sure the industry will get there - but the irresistible force of the millennials and Gen-Z with their needy, challenging and inquisitive mindset, may well be as much a help as a hinderance, until a new and tested pathway of what 'new estate agency' looks like in the 2020's and beyond becomes established.


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