From shifting market conditions to changing regulations around Material Information, estate agents have had to be especially agile to adapt to the evolving property industry over the last few years, and it’s showing no sign of stopping. Now more than ever, it is crucial that learning and development is made a priority by agents and property managers alike in order to be competitive and avoid falling behind.
It really is the right time to innovate when it comes to learning and development for property professionals.
Challenges of the current market
In an industry that has been turned upside down by market, economic and regulatory factors over recent years, the need for flexible learning and development has never been greater.
On a macro level, the pandemic has caused unprecedented economic upheaval, while the after-effects of Brexit are still being felt alongside the ongoing cost of living crisis by consumers and businesses alike, and property has been no different. With housing stock dropping to record lows, in this seller’s market, professionals across the property sector are having to adapt quickly to new technologies and alternative methods of sale, such as auction, as well as enhance their knowledge in areas such as lettings and property management.
Internally, there are various challenges from a learning and development perspective that agents need to tackle head on. Resources are tight; indeed, belts have been tightened across all industries according to the most recent CIPD Learning & Skills At Work survey, “with around a third of organisations reporting reductions in budgets, L&D headcount and the use of external consultants.”
Within the property industry, there often isn’t the structure in place to ensure optimum learning and development for property staff. Good salespeople are promoted to managers without necessarily having the appropriate management skills, meaning that training can be limited, or ‘one-size-fits-all’ models are adopted. Alternatively, the training ‘away days’ that have been historically used by agencies are not always cost effective or practical – particularly for smaller branches and given the current changing market conditions.
The disruption of the pandemic has brought with it some accelerated positives, such as unlocking the potential for online learning and a new-found appreciation for career development and learning across all sectors. Human Resources body, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), reported that “the pandemic has significantly reduced traditional L&D organisational metrics related to resourcing and investment.” The move away from traditional learning and development requires innovative and disruptive solutions that meet the needs of the individual and to help Estate Agents to stay compliant, grow their business and stand out in the crowd.
Individually tailored training
According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, “opportunities to learn and grow” are the top priorities of great working culture. In a time where employees have the upper hand in the job market, the importance of strong learning and development opportunities cannot be underestimated. For training to be successful, the underpinning element has got to be the individual. You can teach the group ethos, company value and topic focuses, but if you haven’t got that underpinning knowledge in place for the individual, that they’ve been able to gain flexibly and in a way that suits their own particular learning style, the development of staff won’t be truly effective. A lack of individually-tailored training assumes that everyone is at the same level, but in the property industry they’re definitely not.
Existing qualifications only test either estate agency knowledge or lettings knowledge. Because we believe in creating property experts, we at The Able Agent have developed a qualification that covers both of these areas, including a bitesize learning model to support smaller agents who can’t afford a trainer.
Upcoming industry trends
It is almost certain that the ongoing development of video content will shape training and development in the property industry over the coming years. A desire for a wider range of content – not just industry specifics – will drive learning for new skillsets outside of the traditional property-focused qualifications. As the industry continues to embrace online learning, there will be an appetite for a wide range of holistic content, encompassing skills and knowledge around the likes of wellbeing, leadership, customer service, social media and digital marketing.
There will also be an appetite for small bitesize chunks of all sorts of different content to enable people to develop themselves at times that suit them, especially in an industry where they are on the move and often time poor. It’s all about the individual developing themselves and feeling supported to do so and that will help to ensure they stay with the business.
Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell is an industry trainer and director of The Able Agent.