A recent wellness and wellbeing industry white paper came up with some disturbing findings – 65 per cent of the industry is often stressed, 47 per cent often deal with physical symptoms of anxiety and 46 per cent find work often impacts on relationships.
It’s time to act.
The industry is all about striving, not thriving, and there is a stigma around issues of wellness and wellbeing. The stereotype says it’s weak to put up your hand and ask for help.As Leanne Pilkington, CEO Laing+Simmons and president of REINSW, said, “People don’t have conversations around burnout, around anxiety, around depression because [they], particularly men, don’t like to share that. They think it makes them weak for other people to know that they’ve got those problems.”
Take action: Encourage people to be open, honest and transparent about how they are really feeling and coping in the workplace.
There is no collective industry responsibility or response to industry wellness and wellbeing issues. There needs to be input and discussion with the stakeholders in wellness and wellbeing from industry peak bodies, organisations, employers and individuals, plus government. As Darren Hutchins, co-founder O’Brien Real Estate, said, “It has to start with the organisation…as an individual, absolutely – you are responsible for your own health and wellbeing – but the business also has a certain amount of responsibility. As principals we probably need to be stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘OK, we need to look at how we deal with these situations as they come through’ and become more accommodating.”
Take action: Get involved in the conversation about wellness and wellbeing in the workplace and become a contributor to the solution.
The real estate industry is behind when it comes to global best practice for wellbeing and wellness. Phil Harris, Harris Real Estate, says, “The small business and franchise model is the one we have, largely, in the industry, but greater corporatisation would be needed to gather the resources to invest in people at a level that would make a big impact.”
Take action: Seek out global best-practice models for workplace wellness and wellbeing, and apply them.
Leaders need to be supported to activate change within real estate organisations. There is a strong business case for wellness initiatives, and organisations who lead in this space have an opportunity to present an attractive employer-brand to attract talented people. Psychologist Marianne Dyer said, “In terms of changing the culture around wellness, it’s about leaders being the leaders in wellness.”
Take action: Be a wellness and wellbeing leader who leads from the front and sets the example.
The deﬁnition of ‘success’ in real estate needs to include alternative measures of success such as health, balance, community and relationships. Purely ﬁnancial metrics for success are not adequate. Valerie Timms, Timms Real Estate, SA, said, “The industry only seems to recognise the top 10 per cent and the spotlight is always on those people. So there isn’t a reward for those doing consistent good business.”
Take action: Say no to the one-dimensional definitions of success in the industry and start encouraging new, healthier metrics for success.
Change needs to start with the attraction, recruitment and onboarding of people into the industry. John Cunningham, Cunninghams, NSW, said, “There is a huge onboarding issue that is not even being talked about. We talk about how tough it is… we are really not understanding who we are taking on, who they are and how to actually get the best out of them; for them to be their best.”
Take action: Onboard new people with a holistic approach to success that breeds sustainability.
Wellness and wellbeing must be supported by culture, at a team, organisational and industry level. Cultures that practise wellbeing and wellness are more sustainable and productive. “As leaders we need to lead by example and start showing some vulnerability, and showing that back to them [employees],” said Nathan Casserly, director Ouwens Casserly, SA.The wellness and wellbeing of the industry rest with its people taking the initiative.
Take action: Create a culture that proactively supports employees around wellness and wellbeing practices.