Real estate agents can be particularly susceptible to workplace stress due to their exposure to clients who may have undergone recent trauma themselves, according to the nation’s peak body for real estate professionals.
The news comes off the back of a survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions released on Monday which revealed that three in five working people had experienced psychological injuries or illnesses at work.
According to the research, in the last 12 months, 47 per cent of Australian workers had also experienced trauma at work, which could include distressing events or dealing with aggressive customers.
Speaking to Real Estate Business, Real Estate Institute of Australia national president Adrian Kelly said a hidden cause of stress in the real estate profession was dealing with second-hand trauma from clients who may be under financial stress or experiencing bereavement.
“We’re quite exposed to people going through traumatic stages in their own lives, because we sell properties on behalf of an estate where a loved one has passed away, and we also have to deal with people who are under an enormous amount of financial pressure,” Mr Kelly said.
“That’s the part of being a real estate agent that a lot of people don’t see: dealing with all the different scenarios that you come across.”
Mr Kelly said it was important for agents to try and understand what might be going on in a client’s life, rather than taking confrontations or aggressive behaviour personally.
“The sign of a good real estate agent is that they are able to adapt themselves and have some sympathy for the people they are dealing with,” he said.
“It’s not as bad as being an ambulance driver or a police officer, but you come across people who are not in a happy place, so you’ve got to make sure that doesn’t rub off.”
Mr Kelly said agency principals would do well to be on the lookout for staff that may be in distress due to second-hand trauma.
“There are no easy answers when it comes to dealing with this other than to be carefully attuned to what people may be thinking and saying,” he said.
“Real estate is a people business, so as an agent, you need to be prepared for these situations and be able to deal with it yourself, because you don’t want to be taking these things home to your own family.”