The well-being of property industry professionals has taken its toll with the economic downturn and cost-of-living crisis, with over a third threatening to quit the sector within the next five years, as the latest annual tmgroup research report revealed.

Despite initial optimism as professionals emerged post-Covid with greater access to home working and flexible working, the ‘Back to the Future’ report shows that over the past year’s pressure cooker environment, the industry is not going far enough to protect the well-being of its workers and has lost focus on its people in the fall-out.

The report reveals that while workplace initiatives, such as access to home working or flexible working hours, deliver a better work/life balance for a quarter of the report’s survey respondents, the number of workers benefitting from this has fallen from the previous year. Other workplace initiatives which drew the most positive impact on employees’ personal well-being were social events, experienced by 15% of respondents, and increased holidays for 11% of respondents, with HR reports suggesting this is a rising trend across all industries.

However, a quarter of people reported not benefitting from any workplace well-being initiatives at all, particularly within the estate agency sector amongst Sales Progressors, Negotiators and Valuers. This is a concern as the industry is already facing a struggle with recruitment and retention of talent.

There was also a marked reduction in staff receiving well-being calls from the previous year. In light of rising caseloads and more prolonged property transactions, employees are in danger of facing increased isolation, particularly those who work remotely. Workplace initiatives such as these are low or no cost, but can have a huge positive impact on staff who have helped firms get through tough times.

Dan Creed, HR Director at tmgroup comments, “A concern is that the positive intention of well-being programmes and well-being calls are starting to decline. Instead, organisations are replacing human intervention with e-cards or self-help initiatives and I am noticing a decline in overall staff well-being in these companies.”

“It is leading to higher rates of absence as well as talent acquisition and retention issues. This will make it more challenging for businesses to manage workloads and will put additional pressure or stress on existing staff – impacting mental health. To counter this, employers should consider measures such as increasing holiday entitlements beyond the basic legal level and possibly introducing initiatives such as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). According to the CIPD, many businesses now have at least one MHFA per 100 staff.”

With so many property professionals clearly feeling the effects of the previous year and with 2023 looking like it will still be a challenging market, there is understandable demand for change. Solutions are there if business leaders are willing to make big decisions that steer their firms towards a more sustainable future focussing on how well-being initiatives can support their staff.

To find out more about what 850 property professionals had to say about what the industry needs to shape a healthy future in the face of yet more uncertainty, the full ‘Back to the Future’ report is available to download here.