Is there a divide between staff and their employers?

Battling obstacles with recruitment and retention within conveyancing has been on-going for many firms for some time. Property and business specialist, James Boyd, shares his thoughts on these widely speculated issues and gives a candid outlook on what’s really happening behind the scenes.

The process of employers monotonously reviewing the struggle they have when trying to recruit and retain employees may seem perplexing. However, the issue could be dissected into something simple – misunderstanding.

As an employer, from a business point of view, productivity is everything. It is thought that firms who want to excel in business share similar outlooks on key principles with regards to staff. These include the drive for staff to work longer hours, to keep re-numeration at its lowest level, to keep employees at the lowest grade, and to only provide training that will help members of the team to do their specific job better. The principles may seem brutal and may not be the intention in many cases, however, when combined formulate a logical approach to business strategy.

The thoughts of the staff are somewhat in contrast with those of the employers. From their perspective it is usually a priority to earn as much as possible and quickly, have a work life balance, progress through the ranks quickly, and to attain skills that improve their career prospects.

In a way, the two thought processes correspond with a shared need for efficiency. However, coupling the two creates the existing problem of trying to retain and recruit staff. To some, it may seem as though the mindset of the employees feature an element of impatience regarding personal gain, as everything mentioned is about pace in terms of progression. Is this just as bad as the attitude of the firms wanting to primarily focus on the growth of the business? The thoughts of the staff could be somewhat understandable, as the job security offered to previous generations can no longer be provided, so a thirst for versatility and progression are somewhat essential.

The most notable difference between the two the frames of mind is that the firms aren’t as considerate as the staff would like when it comes to improving the individuals’ skillsets. As staff will be will be wanting to attain the skills needed to progress, it’s important for the employer to analyse the missing skillsets and act accordingly in a way that betters the business as well as the individual. Many firms share an archaic approach of using just the basic tool of giving teams a set amount, or even worse, a sporadic amount of work. With happenings as such, it is questionable as to why firms sit and ponder upon how they do not get full recoveries and why staff turnover is high. Furthermore, many managers do not gain basic performance management skills, which only compounds the above problem even more so. Employees should be given the tools to not only keep up with the fast paced nature of the sector, but also innovate and stay attune to modern ways of working. Notable areas for essential training should include: business development and selling, IT training, networking, leadership, and social media. Expanding your employee’s career prospects can, not only help to maintain job satisfaction, but also diversify the business.

Most firms are thought to not have a sufficient competency framework in place, which could act as a major discouragement for staff. Without a competency framework, younger and less experienced employees may view some promotions as being unfair and unattainable, which will demotivate many. Recognition is similarly an aspect employers are thought to fail on delivering. If no praise is handed to the employees, going the extra mile is going to be less alluring.

Another questionable area within firms is the quality of internal communications and relationships between the staff and their employers. It is the little things that the firms regularly seem to overlook. The importance of days out, healthy relationships, regular chats and understanding, seem to be underestimated in regards to the effect it can have on staff morale. Keeping employees happy and having regular contact with them has a positive correlation with their work ethic, so keeping them dissatisfied is only going to deter progress in a business sense.

When it comes to agents, there seems to be an abundance of challenges which they believe contribute to the struggle of recruiting and retaining staff. Excessive workload, stress levels, poor senior management, long hours needed to get the work done, no favourable terms and conditions beyond salary, lack of assistants, poor resources, and lack of clear career prospects are just some of the concerns of agents. One of the most important issues lies with the senior management team being poor at deal with stress and work related issues. Senior management should be reliable arbiters to turn to when stress levels are rising, which frequently isn’t the case. It is therefore understandable why employees may wish to leave and why pressure is rising amongst agents. With agents specialising in recruitment, the current predicaments may also demotivate agents as well as staff.

Getting the balance right is incredibly important, however some firms are still getting this hopelessly wrong.

Today's Conveyancer