Build a culture of wellbeing and produce great results

While sales, marketing and customer relationships are important in driving a real estate business, looking after your people is crucial to sustainable success. Three leading agents discuss innovative approaches to cultivating a healthy and productive staff culture in their offices.

Ranked seventh in this year’s REB Top 50 Sales Offices, Ray White Robina jumped 38 spots from 45th place last year. CEO Scott Burgess says the “most important ingredient” to the agency’s success is the way they look after their staff.


Ray White Robina adopts a holistic and well-rounded approach to maintaining the wellbeing of its employees.

“When people want to be at work rather than out of work, they become more productive,” Mr Burgess says.

The agency regularly provides training to cover issues beyond the world of real estate.

External trainers come into the office every week and the agency runs an office boot camp for the team at 6pm on Thursdays with a personal trainer.

Staff also receive training and support to help them with making important lifestyle choices.

“We also get people in to talk about health and fitness so the staff understand about a healthy diet, the best way to exercise, the best time to exercise, how to invest their money, what things to be looking for in terms of superannuation and tax depreciation,” Mr Burgess says.

Another important program the indoor cricket team, which hosts quarterly awards and dinners.

“The idea of really trying to build a culture in a business, more than anything else, harnesses great results,” Mr Burgess says.

The 80-20 rule

Ouwens Casserly (OC) director Alexander Ouwens says his company creates a dynamic and creative culture by allowing agents to do things “20 per cent the way that they want to do it”.

“We have a core ethos in our organisation where we want to have a consistent brand to the marketplace,” Mr Ouwens says.

“We allow everyone to have their 20 per cent flair in the way that they do things themselves. Otherwise, if you have too many hard and fast rules, you stump creativity, you stump innovation.”

Mr Ouwens’ business partner, Nathan Casserly, agrees, adding that this 20 per cent is what helps the agency maintain an edge over its competitors. 

“Understanding that for an organisation to be successful, it needs its key stakeholders (people) to all be heading in the same direction, 80 per cent of the time anyway. The other 20 per cent is to allow for creative flair, discussion and alternative thinking,” he says.

Mr Ouwens says this 20 per cent leeway has paved the way for many ideas, including the agency adopting virtual reality and 3D technology.

Preparing agents for 2020

As the real estate industry faces rapid technological change, including the threat of digital disruption, OC places an emphasis on ensuring its agents are trained in the skills they will need, not just for today but well into the future.

The agency also trains agents in developing the mindset they need to succeed.

“When you hear about all this digital disruption, you think, am I going to still be relevant in the year 2020? You absolutely will be, but you need to make sure that you’re not only skilled up on the tech side of things but more so on the mindset of things, because people are actually wanting to deal with a good human being more than anything else,” Mr Ouwens says.

“You need to have that EQ and the ability to have empathy with people and be able to deal with them one-on-one and not make it all about the computer or the tech or the marketing,” he says.

Mr Ouwens adds that OC agents’ mindset training is not only around how to better relate to customers but also about maintaining their confidence.

“When we went around the room and asked everyone where their blockages were, it wasn’t that they had bad dialogue on the phone or that their listing presentation skills weren’t good enough, it was about their confidence getting rattled,” he says.

“Every now and then, you have a couple of bad nights’ sleep, you miss a couple of listings or you’ve got a screaming three-year-old that keeps you up or whatever it is.

“It’s about having a culture and an atmosphere that gets you back up and gets you going again.”

According to Mr Ouwens, this training has produced great results in the team, “not only in their happiness but in the listings that they’re selling as well”.

[Related: Why a good culture generates repeat business]

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