Whether you’re a trainee fresh to the business or the principal of an agency, everyone needs to take time to care for their mental health, as Chris Hanley will tell you.
On a recent episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, CEO of First National Byron and RISE chairperson Chris Hanley spoke about the development process behind the Real Care app, which provides mental health support for professionals in the real estate industry.
When Chris Hanley started the RISE conference in 2019, he didn’t expect it to lead him down the path of developing a wellbeing app for the real estate industry.
But, it did prompt Mr Hanley, along with his co-directors, to zero in on the issue of mental health – and look to address the issue’s prevalence within real estate.
As it wasn’t exactly their area of expertise, the team went on what Mr Hanley describes as a journey of discovery.
“There’s more real estate people in Australia and New Zealand than there are farmers. There’s a lot of us, there's over 100,000. So we went out, we talked to a lot of people,” Mr Hanley says.
Their biggest takeaway was that there’s no one size fits all approach to tackling mental health issues, or one single thing that would be a panacea for stress in the industry.
“In effect, what we found out is that there was no single answer. But we chose one significant step to start us to improve mental health.”
The app they’ve developed, Real Care, was created with help from people at every stage in their real estate career, at every level, to try to reach as many people as possible.
“We put it on the phones because every agent I know has a phone in their hand pretty well all day. So, we thought it was the best way for us to do it.”
Co-designed by Melbourne-based Utility Creative, who have built mental health apps for the Australian mining industry and the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian police forces, a trial version is available to download now, before it’s slated for an official launch at the end of the year.
It was created out of boots-on-the-ground research, responding to the real concerns facing the professionals who helped them test it out along the way – from young trainees and admin staff to sales reps who have 20 years of experience.
“We went out to real estate companies all over Australia and in New Zealand and we used the staff within those to build the early versions of it. We tested it, everything from its language to the colouring of it. Then we got a partner which was Domain, they came along well into the process and joined us and helped fund it. We finished it and it now sits in the App Store.”
Highlighting that Australia’s “got a lot of brilliant people”, Mr Hanley added: “I think people somehow think it could be just a bunch of agents who somehow have been able to work out a piece of technology.”
“No, it’s some geniuses with technology who grabbed hold of a bunch of agents. It was built by us and for us in terms of nudging and managing and crafting the colours and the words and the language but the tech has been built by brilliant people,” the CEO emphasised.
Despite requiring a download, which some may see as an obstacle to its use, Mr Hanley sees it as “a very proactive piece of tech”.
“It’s as good a tech as you’re going to get anywhere in the world,” he considered.
The app enables real estate professionals to monitor “everything from their breathing to sleep habits, or look at their budget”.
An employee assistance program – or EAP – is also included, which Mr Hanley advised as allowing people to “ring a counsellor with a click”.
“The response, once people start using it, they’re blown away because all of the things they need [can be found in the app], for example, to get a rapid response, or if someone’s breathing is irregular, or they really need to be calmed down.
“We all do sometimes – particularly in real estate – because it’s this journey of adrenaline up and adrenaline down.”
The best part? It’s entirely free.
“We’re giving it to the industry. There’s no cost, everyone can have this,” Mr Hanley said.
And it’s only one of the steps RISE is taking to provide mental health support across the industry.
“We also plan to do a study of the entire profession at university level to study the stresses actually in our workplace so that we can teach the leaders of businesses to run businesses with less stress – calmer spaces that will be more productive.”
Listen to the full conversation with Chris Hanley here.