A seminal project investigating the wellness and wellbeing of professionals working in real estate has documented what has long been suspected – many in the industry are stressed, time poor and lacking a work/life balance.
However, the findings also reveal seven key areas to facilitate change.
Initiated by real estate industry sales and mindset coach Jet Xavier, the recently released Revive 2017 whitepaper sought to “understand, support and value” the wellness and wellbeing of people in real estate.
The project included an industry survey, roundtable meetings, and wellbeing and wellness summits, with results revealing real estate workers were more likely to be stressed, anxious and time poor than the national benchmarks.
Key findings of the survey noted:
- 47 per cent of respondents had felt physical symptoms of anxiety in the past 12 months, either often or always.
- 65 per cent felt stressed either often or always
- 35 per cent had sought medical advice once or more for work-related stress
- 40 per cent were not satisfied at all with their health and fitness
- 46 per cent felt work often impacted on their personal relationships
- 36 per cent felt they had only limited support from their co-workers and colleagues
- 25 per cent experienced symptoms of burnout
- 40 per cent often felt overwhelmed by the demands of the job
- 26 per cent used alcohol often to cope with workplace stress
Mr Xavier explained the research confirmed what many felt but were hesitant to discuss.
“We knew something was wrong, not just for low-income earners in the industry but also for those who earn a lot. Many are stressed out, overworked and not looking after their health.”
As a renowned industry coach, Mr Xavier has a unique insight and access to people working within real estate, allowing him an outsider’s perspective of the state of play.
“What had become obvious to me anecdotally is that there are two sides to the real estate industry in Australia. The first is a high-gloss and perfect platform to create success in life and business; with its uncapped commission structures, flexible work hours and people-oriented environments,” he said.
“The second side is the high-pressured and burned-out underbelly, where wellness and wellbeing are not on the agenda and where agents are becoming unwell, struggling with financial strain and in many cases leaving the industry after experiencing the detrimental impact of imbalance.”
The purpose of the Revive 2017 whitepaper was to identify the extent of the problem and do something about it, with seven key themes emerging for future change.
Thrive – This looks at addressing the stigma attached to asking for help and notes there should be a non-disease model which focuses on thriving, not just surviving.
Adapt – Real estate has a series of industry-specific circumstances including remuneration models, a competitive nature and low barriers to entry. Together these require an industry-specific wellness response.
Include – The definition of ‘success’ needs to change and include health, balance, community and relationships, rather than just income as the measure of achievement.
Act – A collective response needs to cater to the wellness and wellbeing of real estate workers, with all stakeholders taking responsibility and playing a role.
Lead – Industry leaders require the support to implement change within real estate organisations.
Educate – Change needs to start during the recruiting, onboarding process.
Nurture – Wellness and wellbeing must be supported at a team, organisational and industry level.
Real estate industry insider and researcher Sarah Bell was responsible for the research element of the report and noted the whitepaper started a conversation the industry needed to have.
“We need to put the competition aside and work as an industry,” she stated, adding that the ‘Thrive’ element was a particularly important focus of the report.
“Wellness and wellbeing is not an absence of disease but rather about allowing people and the industry as a whole to reach its full potential. It’s the message that everyone can improve.
“The previous narrative of real estate was often about hard work and hustle. The result is a lack of an alternative definition of success that has often incorporated a short-term view which is purely financial. That’s not serving the industry well, and it’s not serving the people within the real estate industry.”
Mr Xavier said that implementing change within real estate to incorporate a focus on wellness and wellbeing could result in real benefits to individuals, the industry and its reputation.
He noted statistics indicate healthy employees are three times more productive than unhealthy staff, healthy employees take nine times less sick leave, and healthy employees work 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 by the least healthy employees.
“If staff are not being driven by unrealistic expectations, this offers a better return on investment, a better culture and reflects through to the larger dealings that people have with the industry.”
The focus of the Revive Project will now shift to continuing the conversation, creating longitudinal data and implementing real change, with further research, roundtable events and summits on the agenda as part of Revive 2018.
“By focusing on a wellness model, rather than a disease model, the Revive Project can continue as an inclusive movement assisting members of the industry to thrive and not just survive,” Mr Xavier said.
“The Revive Project 2018 will see increased commitment in putting the wellness and wellbeing of the industry in the spotlight.
“Like anything in life, in real estate you have to work hard to get ahead. But if there’s a negative impact on wellness and well-being, we’re using the wrong model and that needs to change.”