Worst fears for 2022 realised as staffing crisis continues

Salary bumps, signing bonuses, and a renewed focus on flexible working are quickly becoming the norm for Commercial Real Estate firms faced with a relentless staffing crisis – as industry predictions cast for 2022 take firm hold.

Many commercial firms have been experiencing high levels of churn

Concerns about recruitment and staff retention challenges were high on the list as property professionals cast their predictions for 2022 – all part of ‘The New Normal’ report, the latest research from tmgroup, mio and Conveyancing Data Services (CDS).

Martin Manning, Sales Director (Corporate and Real Estate) at tmgroup comments:

“Staffing has been one of the biggest challenges by far shaping the industry in 2022. Whilst some of the bigger firms have been weathering the storm with a good mix of wellbeing initiatives, which have gone some way to keeping their staff happy and engaged, many firms have been experiencing churn this year.”

Pulling out all the stops to retain talent

In direct response to this, many firms have been adapting their offering to existing and new recruits, as Martin continues:

“It can be challenging for many firms to keep pace right now, with several pulling out all the stops to keep the best people in post. The competition is fierce. I’m hearing more and more about salary and/or package increases, improved bonus schemes and benefits, and a much increased acceptance of flexible working. A growing number of experienced people have been head-hunted with generous packages, alongside rumours of the highest calibre trainees also being heavily incentivised to join some firms – including potentially lucrative signing-on bonuses.”

It’s not just about money either. In a lot of cases, it’s also about striking the right balance in a firm’s approach to flexible working – and even revisiting the matter in response to staff needs, as Martin comments:

“At the start of the year, a number of firms looked to implement a strict ‘back to the office’ policy. However the resistance from staff and impact this had on churn has gone someway to softening the stance on this contentious issue. People have become accustomed to hybrid working and it’s becoming  increasingly common to see arrangements in place such as 2 days in the office/ 3 days remote – which have gone some way to appeasing and retaining talent.”

Championing role models, improving transparency and redefining job roles can also make a big difference

Fortunately, it’s not all about salary incentives and wellbeing initiatives. According to a recent tm:tv session – Top 5: Ways to improve staff retention in property roles – there are plenty of other ways firms can change their business culture for the better, all to help attract and retain staff. When asked “What do you think is most important for staff retention?”, 50% of the tm:tv audience (in April 2022) said that “Rewarding hard work / sharing the success” was key.

Other initiatives that were voted to have a significant impact included; being very specific in your job descriptions, ensuring that everyone’s role is clearly defined and structured, having talented role models within the organisation, and transparency around the vision, strategy and performance of the organisation and team.

(If you’d like more inspiration for improving your staff retention strategy, you can watch the full recording of the ‘Top 5: Ways to improve staff retention in property roles’ here.)

Challenges expected to be compounded in second half of 2022

‘The New Normal’ report findings also cited concerns about interest rates, longer-term pandemic uncertainty, and other economic policies – expected to wreak havoc for firms across 2022. Whilst these fears were undoubtedly founded, there has been a welcomed lag in them being realised, as Martin comments:

“On the cusp of the New Year, a lot of Real Estate professionals were expecting a bumpy ride in 2022, but for many, Real Estate has had a much stronger start to the year than initially expected. Unfortunately, we may yet see the impact of old and new concerns emerging across the latter half of the year – including interest rate changes, preparing for the digital AP1 deadline, and the ongoing war in the Ukraine – undoubtedly shaking things up even more for Real Estate professionals.”

About “The New Normal” report

Bringing together the voices of nearly 800 property professionals, including Residential Conveyancers, Commercial Real Estate Professionals, Estate Agents, Lenders, Surveyors, Developers, and more, ‘The New Normal’ research set out to capture how those working on the frontline of the property transaction really feel the industry is adapting.

Download your FREE copy of ‘The New Normal’ here. A “first look” at the report was also discussed at a tm:tv special back in January 2022. Watch the recording here.


This article was submitted to be published by tmgroup as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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