How to avoid ‘burnout’ and achieve longevity in the real estate industry

Business, Careers, Property Management, Sales,  Principals,  Property Managers,  Salespeople

‘Burnout’ is a reality that many professionals face during their working life.

This occupational phenomenon occurs when chronic workplace stress is unsuccessfully managed, according to the World Health Organisation.

Unsurprisingly, doctors and emergency service workers are amongst the professions most commonly impacted by the condition.

However, with seven-day work weeks, long hours and stressful negotiations, it’s no leap to suggest that property managers, real estate agents and business owners also experience burnout.

General Manager and sales agent of RE/MAX Success, Daniel Burrett, says that consumer expectations of twenty-four-seven availability may be responsible for poor work-life balance within the industry.

“We used to all have nine to five o’clock jobs, Monday to Friday,” says Burrett.

“Sunday trading wasn’t very much a thing. Whereas now, people’s jobs are no longer confined to the nine to five o’clock set up.

“So what it means for the consumer, as in the buyer or the seller, [is that] they may not be able to talk to us till after five o’clock at night. Sometimes it will be six o’clock at night, sometimes eight o’clock at night, and that’s just the reality of the world we live in.”

The 2019 REIQ Young Gun says that to achieve longevity in the industry, agents need to achieve a work-life balance.

“[Work-life balance means] still being able to enjoy some things that aren’t real estate related. I know it sounds a bit weird because you sort of life and breathe it when you are in real estate, and it’s what you enjoy. But you’ve got to have some stuff that helps you switch off from real estate, so for me it’s more sports-related or competing in some events like running and biking,” Burrett says.

Burrett says that building a team is the answer to achieving a work-life balance, as the team can service the client twenty-four-seven, rather than just a single agent.

“When I was starting to get a bit busier, I was feeling the effects of a bit of burnout myself… and I stopped for a second and thought ‘I can’t keep going the way that I am because my career will be over in five years and that will be it’,” says Burrett.

The 28-year-old decided to hire an assistant, James O’Donohue, who evolved into a sales agent.

Burrett recalls discussing the future with O’Donohue, and their decision to stay together, rather than tackle the industry separately.

“So what we concluded was that there are things more important than earning a huge income within the industry, and to us what was more important was having a bit of balance and having a better lifestyle.”

The RE/MAX Success sales agents have their own clients, but can share these clients to enable either agent to take every second weekend off.

Burrett says that this system of operating does not compromise on the quality of services to the client.

“Clients are still getting the same level of service, they still know both of us, they’re still getting the experience and advice they need. It’s not coming back to one person to do the seven-day grind,” he says.

However, Burrett warns that distributing your workload to other staff comes with two main challenges – letting go of your ego and fighting the desire to do all the work yourself.

Burrett also says that establishing boundaries with people as to your availability is a great technique to achieving a work-life balance.

“I used to answer my phone at whatever time of the day, irrespective, and probably around two years ago now I stopped. I changed my voice mail in those early days, and told people that I was able to answer the phone [from] seven o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock at night. Which may sound like a lot of hours for a lot of people, but it is a lot less than what I was doing and what a lot of agents would do.

“If you provide some boundaries or expectations around when you return their call, people respond to that really well.”

The RE/MAX Success General Manager says that to prevent ‘burnout’ within the workplace, owners and licensees should foster a supportive environment. Burrett says that when a staff member is unwell or has family obligations and does not have another agent set-up to cover their work, Burrett is the first to offer assistance.

“That could just be that they can divert their phone to me for an afternoon or day if they’re at family stuff, right through to covering their open houses on a weekend or something to that effect. Just by providing that sort of support to the agent, as a General Manager, it means that they’re not feeling that burnout,” says Burrett.

“But, it also means they don’t have that stress or worry in their head when the inevitable proverbial hits the fan. Then they won’t have that fear factor of what am I going to do about my income, or my sale or my client, because they know that they’ve got that safety net there within the office.”

The big tip for agents that are striving to achieve a work-life balance is to be present, says Burrett.

“I see agents are not being present at say family events, just to give an example. You do need to feel comfortable as an agent to be able to just put your phone down, and let it ring or let the messages accumulate or whatever it is, and actually be present for what you’re doing, to achieve that work-life balance.

“So you can’t just go to a family birthday and still have half your headspace in real estate, because that’s not going to achieve the desired outcome of you being able to relax a little, switch off a little, and [take a break] from real estate for that period of time.”