10 ways to engage agents

by Nicola Middlemiss19 Jan 2015
The way we work is changing, and brokerages are changing with it. Experts have predicted the following trends to emerge or continue throughout 2015.
Continuous job searching
Agents are no longer remaining loyal to one brokerage for decades or their entire working life. The likelihood is that agents will constantly be on the lookout for their next home, with networking being a new normality and an ever-present “fear of missing out” motivating people to be aware of all potential opportunities. According to Expert 360, smart brokers and managers use this to their advantage by recognizing and nurturing this desire to excel.
Millennials becoming the boss
A recent study revealed that 72 per cent of millennials would like to become their own boss. This new generation of young individuals – perhaps inspired by the rise of start-ups and billion dollar valuations with which they have grown up – craves the opportunity to progress into positions of leadership.
Casual wear
Casual Fridays are extending across the working week for many organizations. Many agents use their attire to express individuality at work. This trend is perhaps inspired by tech giant Google, which is renowned for encouraging informality with casual work wear, Zen zones and free food for staff – which has led to increased productivity and innovation for the company.
It is predicted that by 2020, 40 per cent of the total working population will be millennials – and internships are crucial for providing them with their first taste of the ultra-competitive real estate world. Many brokers are beginning to recognize the characteristics unique to this generation: entrepreneurship, risk-taking and flexibility, and internships and mentorship programs have generally been designed to mutually benefit both parties.
Agents are no longer expected to be at their desk from nine to five every day. Technological advancements have paved the way for an increase in more flexible working arrangements. In today’s ever-connected world, a physical workplace is no longer a necessity for employees to fulfil their duties.
According to Bridget Loudon, co-founder and CEO at Expert360, businesses that will succeed in 2015 are the ones that embrace technology to support their biggest asset: people.
Rapid talent turnover
Brokerages are striving to connect with and hire the top agents faster than ever before.  Advances in connectivity, websites, accessibility and communication platforms have made this possible.
“Successful businesses are ones that can quickly pull in talent they need and disband others when they no longer need them,” Loudon says. “What many employers are currently doing is looking at traditional ways of getting resources but realizing that these channels aren’t fast enough. It takes 42 days on average to hire someone, even for short term role, and the vast majority are consequently looking to online options, which can cut this down to as little as three days.”
Work is increasingly personal
Work-life balance is a phrase with which most will already be familiar, and the New Year will see agents and brokers alike continuing with their attempts to maintain a satisfactory balance between the two.
Workplace culture
Cultural fit and character are emerging as the top brokerage considerations when assessing agents for a role, with many broker/managers adopting the “hire character, train skill” approach. The importance of cultural fit is one of the results of today’s multi-generational workforce. Employers are facing the challenge of ensuring that there is an alignment amongst agents on the values and vision of the brokerage.
“You can determine whether a candidate will fit into the company culture by asking questions during the interview that are character driven rather than skill driven,” Louden added. “Rather than “tell me about a project you worked on,” try “what did you do when a project didn’t go well?” – this will give an insight into character as well as competence.”
According to Louden, 2015 will be about hiring for character, not skills. By showing existing agents that you are considering who they will be working with, it shows them that they are valued.
“Try to connect to people on non-work related issues,” she also advised. “Take time to understand them – what’s important to them? Candidates will value this.”
Talent development key to retention
With brokerage loyalty a thing of the past, brokers and managers are increasing talent development opportunities. Although development programs were previously reserved for those at the top of the corporate pyramid, career development programs, alongside skill workshops, are becoming increasingly accessible to every level of the corporate hierarchy.
“Employers need to try and ensure that they have a dynamic and open work environment, particularly for millennials and young people who want change,” said Loudon. “If employers can create a dynamic workplace where people can rotate within roles and have opportunities to work on different projects, it shows employees that the organization supports them and their goals.”
She added that it is important to recognize that the best talent will not want to be locked into roles for years – and preventing them from leaving can stop more top talent from entering the company.

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