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Real estate industry faces talent war amidst market shifts and remote work boom: Here’s how to thrive within it

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Spring has sprung, and with it comes a mixed bag of market sentiments. While some sectors are experiencing a softening, others are thriving. Amidst this backdrop, the real estate industry finds itself grappling with a unique challenge — the relentless war for talent.

Qualified candidates, particularly in residential real estate, are being lured away by the allure of stability offered by competing industries like commercial real estate, legal firms, clinics and corporations. This trend isn’t confined to individual agents or teams but extends to entire brokerages.


The normalization of remote work: A lasting pandemic legacy


A lasting legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the normalization of remote work. What began as a necessity for safety has evolved into a preferred mode of employment, especially in the real estate sector. The flexibility afforded by remote or hybrid work arrangements has become a key factor in attracting top talent.

Brokerages and teams that embrace this trend are finding themselves with a competitive edge, enjoying access to a pool of candidates that we’ve found, over the past five years, is about 40 per cent richer in quality compared to those insisting on traditional office-based setups. We repeatedly find that candidates who apply to positions offering remote work opportunities are more inclined to engage in discussions when they’re informed about the remote nature of the role and the flexibility it offers.


How real estate firms can stay competitive in today’s remote-work world


By embracing a holistic approach to employee satisfaction and well-being that includes the benefits of remote work, real estate firms can differentiate themselves as employers of choice in a competitive market. Here are some strategies to get there:

1. Implement flexible work policies and invest in technology infrastructure to support remote collaboration and communication. By embracing remote or hybrid work arrangements, companies can expand their talent pool beyond geographic limitations, tapping into diverse skill sets and expertise. Remote work options demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance — which are increasingly valued by professionals in the post-pandemic era.

To further enhance recruitment efforts, firms can highlight their remote work policies as a competitive advantage in job postings and employer branding initiatives. By adapting to the changing preferences of the workforce and leveraging remote work as a strategic asset, real estate companies can position themselves as industry leaders and attract top-tier talent for sustained success.

2. Offer customized benefits packages that go beyond traditional compensation and bonuses. This can include providing health benefits or contributing towards health spending accounts to support employee well-being. The demand for remote work opportunities has catalyzed a shift in the employer-employee dynamic, and candidates now expect more than just a competitive salary — they’re looking for comprehensive benefits packages that include health benefits or contributions toward health spending accounts.

3. Foster a transparent and open communication culture. This helps mitigate multiple job offers and counteroffers. The prevalence of multiple job offers or counteroffers has heightened negotiation tactics among candidates, who are increasingly leveraging new offers to secure better deals from their current employers.

By proactively engaging with employees to understand their needs and preferences, employers can tailor benefits packages and incentives to attract and retain top talent.

4. Invest in professional development opportunities and career advancement pathways. This demonstrates a commitment to employee growth and incentivizes loyalty.


Reduce turnover by creating a supportive and engaging work environment and offering performance-based incentives


For employers in the real estate industry, recruitment is just the first step in a multifaceted process. Effective onboarding, management practices and performance-based incentives are essential for retaining talent and fostering loyalty.

However, the reality is that employee turnover is a persistent challenge, with the average tenure within a team hovering around two years. We see this from our brand ambassadors, who often serve as valuable touchpoints for gauging industry insights and frequently approach us when they’re once again exploring the job market for growth opportunities. Additionally, we regularly conduct check-ins with our database of over 15,000 candidates to understand their career aspirations and needs — particularly within the residential real estate sectors of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

To address the challenge of employee turnover in the real estate industry, employers should prioritize creating a supportive and engaging work environment that fosters employee growth and satisfaction.

This begins with a robust onboarding process that introduces new hires to the company culture, values and expectations — even if it’s a team of one. Ongoing training and professional development opportunities can help employees stay motivated and invested in their roles. Additionally, implementing effective management practices, such as regular feedback sessions and recognition programs, can enhance communication and morale within teams.

To incentivize long-term commitment, employers can introduce performance-based incentives tied to key metrics and milestones. This not only rewards top performers but also encourages continuous improvement and goal attainment. Moreover, offering career advancement opportunities and pathways for progression can provide employees with a clear trajectory for growth within the organization.

By investing in these retention strategies, employers can reduce turnover rates and build a cohesive team of dedicated professionals who are committed to the success of the company. This not only improves productivity and morale but also enhances the overall reputation of the organization as an employer of choice within the real estate industry.


Foster a culture of work-life balance and well-being for a successful, long-term team


A valuable employee is akin to gold — they anticipate your needs, operate autonomously and contribute to the growth of your enterprise. However, it’s crucial to recognize that even the most dedicated employees need boundaries. While the real estate industry often operates beyond traditional office hours, it’s imperative to respect employees’ work-life balance to prevent burnout and maintain productivity.

Building a successful team requires a strategic approach that goes beyond immediate needs. Employers must envision their end goals and create a culture that nurtures employee well-being and professional growth. Central to this is effective communication and management practices that prioritize positive reinforcement and constructive feedback over micromanagement.


Overall, creating a thriving workplace culture isn’t just about offering tangible perks — it’s about fostering a sense of value and belonging among employees. Regular expressions of appreciation and a focus on the bigger picture can go a long way in cultivating a happy and healthy work environment. By prioritizing the long-term satisfaction and growth of their team, the industry’s employers can ensure the sustainability and success of their real estate ventures.


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