The UK property industry is currently grappling with mental health concerns among its workforce. Research indicates that professionals in this sector are experiencing an increased prevalence of mental health issues.

Andrew Greener

Andrew Greener

According to a report by Agents Together, 35% of property agents are currently facing some form of mental health problem. All this is shedding light on the impact of the type of work needed to be done (and how it is carried out) on industry professionals. Factors like the speedy paced environment and economically sensitive nature of estate and letting agencies, as well as elements like global supply chain challenges and rising living costs, have all contributed to heightened stress levels and poor mental wellbeing among workers in the sector.

Moreover, a study analysing data from 20 industries and 20,000 individuals reveals that the real estate sector has one of the highest rates of mental health problems. Specifically, depression appears to be particularly prevalent within this field. While some efforts are going in the right direction to address these issues, it is evident that more needs to be done within the industry to recognise and support those struggling with health concerns. Overall, this emphasises the importance of confronting these challenges and implementing measures to promote the wellbeing of the workforce.

One effective way to tackle this problem is by prioritising workplace wellness and implementing programmes that support mental health. Employers can make a difference by offering resources such as counselling, therapy and mental health first aid to their workforce. It is also essential for them to invest in education and training initiatives that focus on raising awareness about health and building resilience. These programmes not only empower individuals to take care of their mental wellbeing but also enable them to effectively support their colleagues during challenging times.

It is estimated that mental health issues, including absenteeism, cost the UK economy £117bn a year

Promoting work-life balance is another aspect of addressing mental health concerns in the UK property sector. This can be achieved through the implementation of policies that support realistic working hours, regular breaks and sufficient time off for managing stress and preventing burnout. Additionally, creating a work environment that encourages conversations about mental health without stigma can significantly reduce barriers for employees seeking help when they need it.

A factor not talked about enough is that the industry needs to look at stressors that employees may face. For example, customer-facing roles might have an increased risk of encountering violence, which can affect employees’ emotional wellbeing and contribute to mental health issues. Therefore, implementing targeted measures aimed at preventing violence in these roles becomes crucial for ensuring the wellbeing of workers in the sector.

Neglecting wellbeing can have consequences that should not be underestimated. It can have an impact on both individuals and organisations in numerous ways. For instance, it can significantly affect an individual’s ability to enjoy their work and find satisfaction in their tasks, which leads to a decrease in productivity.

Employees with poor mental health tend to take around 12 days off per year, which not only disrupts business operations but also increases costs. It is estimated that mental health issues, including absenteeism, cost the UK economy £117bn per year. Add to this that the prevalence of mental health issues contributes to employee turnover rates, with some 61% of employees who consider changing jobs attributing their decision to poor mental health, and yhis ultimately leads to increased recruitment and training expenses for companies.

Recent research has raised doubts about the effectiveness and validity of individual level interventions aimed at improving wellbeing such as practices, resilience training, stress management programmes, relaxation classes and wellbeing apps. A study conducted by William J Fleming at the Wellbeing Research Centre, at the University of Oxford, challenges the popularity and credibility of these solutions.

The solution lies in taking a proactive and preventative approach to the mental health of agents, lettings and administrative staff. The way to do this is to make sure that conversations around mental health are scheduled and instigated on a regular basis – at least once a month. Shared original content can stimulate new discussion and help staff to recognise everyday mental health conditions so that they can be understood and managed effectively at an early stage.

Being proactive develops a positive culture towards mental health that can boost morale and reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. It also goes a long way towards improving productivity and happiness in the workplace.

Andrew Greener is founder and chief executive of Gallantium