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The truth behind the ‘talent shortage’: what it really means for property

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The ‘talent shortage’ has hit the headlines: from low supply of oil resulting in extensive queueing at petrol stations to The Open University reporting the skills shortage will cost organisations £6.3 billion in lack of resources and missed opportunities.

How has the property industry been hit?

Both Brexit and COVID provided a catalyst for slow market conditions, but did anyone predict the aftereffects of the two? High activity, broken sales and lettings records and an industry which has come out united.

Our experts believe the ‘talent shortage’ is much deeper than what initially meets the eye; the talent is there but the hiring market has shifted a gear in how it recruits. Employers now need to ‘sell’ their business with more than just an attractive remuneration package; an extensive benefit offering, flexible working and investment in technology will all be key attraction and retention tools to recruit top talent.

deverellsmith’s consultants have given an overview of market conditions, from estate agency to leasehold, to provide employers with a deeper understanding of what’s really going on in the hiring market – and how to get the best in the business.

 

Andrew Deverell-Smith, CEO and Founder of deverellsmith

It’s an extremely active market, which is driven by a number of things:

Firstly, the doldrums of Brexit have enabled a bottle neck of inactivity. Secondly, COVID – the impact is every organisation has shed costs, self-reflected and emerged with a clear strategy which inevitably involves strategic hires. In my 20+ year career the only other time I can remember which feels similar was London’s emergence from GFC combined with the Olympic feel-good factor.

My advice? Be clear in the candidate profile that you absolutely require and then run a very thorough and disciplined process. Expect counteroffers and such as a result of the heat in the market.

 

Tommy Lambourne, Manager – Estate Agency, deverellsmith

Although the estate agency hiring market in sales has slowed down since the end of the stamp duty holiday, the desire for agencies to recruit the best talent hasn’t. If professionals are thinking about seeking new employment now is the time to move ahead of ‘the mass resignation’ which is predicted for January.

In addition, we’re seeing many firms hiring en masse after high volumes of redundancies were made due to covid – so although the market seems to have a smaller active talent pool, passive and active candidates will be on the rise in the new year. What is now a candidate short market is likely to flip the switch again and create high competition between agents seeking new employment in 2022.

To meet growing demand, the estate agency team in deverellsmith has grown.

 

 

Will Kirby, Principal Consultant – Block Management

There is an issue with firms not bringing in talent at a junior level or creating a sustainable pipeline of new employees into the industry. Salary inflation has been a massive issue during and post pandemic and the reason behind that is because people are poaching form competitors – we know people don’t move for the same or less money – so if that happens repeatedly across the financial year, particularly in a candidate short market where they don’t have one option but 3, where the highest bidder tends to win.

One solution would be to focus on hiring at grass roots level and hiring from industries which yield a customer service background; hire people from hospitality, retail, leisure, aviation and put training in place in order to show investment and upskill them, that way you can control the wage inflation. Continue to nurture and invest in your staff so they don’t want to leave.

Grass roots need to be fed more.

 

Georgia Zambakides, Senior Manager – New Homes

Clients looking for new home’s sales professionals need to ensure they are selling the opportunity and business to attract talent. Candidates now more than ever are looking for job security, opportunity and growth within a business. Use the entire recruitment process to communicate your employment offerings, that’s within job adverts, interview stages and social channels.

Currently, active candidates are likely to interview for multiple places and receive multiple job offers, so standing out against your competitors is crucial. To attract the very best talent don’t just rely on a credible brand - employees want purpose, authenticity and genuine investment from an employer.

 

Nick Hammond, Head of Build to Rent

With increased investment and more schemes launching in build to rent, there is only a certain number of existing sector talent operators can recruit from. Targeting this shallow talent pool will prove to be unsustainable, adding inflationary pressure on salaries as well as increasing attrition. deverellsmith recommends BTR operators to target talent from sectors with transferable skillsets (e.g. hospitality, retail and leisure), providing an excellent training and development programme to successfully onboard. This will mitigate those risks and open up a far larger talent pool for the sector to succeed.

 

Hannah Taylor, Manager - Investment & Finance

Within the investment and general practice market, we are seeing many candidates reluctant to move, displaying loyalty to their current employers who have supported them through Covid and are generally offering them an attractive work-life balance. The number of counteroffers we are seeing is much increased, and employers are generally doing everything they can to keep their best staff on board.

Our clients need to be selling themselves during the hiring process and getting buy-in from the candidate they are interviewing through their EVP explanation, their corporate ethos, salaries, benefits, flexibility, and training opportunities.

Candidates are only moving for a truly exciting and attractive proposition.

 

Lisa Taylor, Director of Key Accounts

Beds and sheds are where the big demand is! There is a huge need for talent in these sectors, though we are finding clients are being very particular about candidates having to have the specific asset class experience, rather than considering those from a similar background whom have transferable skills, for example, those from commercial development backgrounds who are often keen to gain exposure in these sectors.

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