The Rise Initiative – the real estate action group dedicated to agents’ physical and mental wellbeing – has produced an app to address increasing levels of anxiety and burn-out in the industry sector.
Called Real Care, the app was launched in September 2020 with the assistance of Jeff Kennett, the former Victorian premier and founder of the mental health organisation Beyond Blue.
Real Care is the result of thousands of hours of research of real estate agents and was created with Melbourne-based developer Utility Creative, which has worked with organisations such as the Heart Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Some 65 per cent of real estate agents report physical symptoms caused by job-related stress and anxiety. Research of more than 1,000 respondents by the Revive Project as part of the development of the app also finds two out of five agents feel “overwhelmed” by their work.
Some 26 per cent have used alcohol to cope with the stress, and 7.5 per cent say they’ve resorted to illegal, recreational drugs.
Almost half of the respondents (47%) say anxiety is a consistent part of their professional life.
The Rise Initiative brings together senior real estate professionals in a voluntary capacity to heighten awareness of the dangers of work-related anxiety and burn-out that are faced by the 10,000+ real estate agents across Australia and New Zealand.
“The real estate industry has a shocking legacy of stress, burn-out and even suicide brought on by us chasing, and rewarding, the wrong goals,” says one of the founders of Rise, Chris Hanley.
“The Rise Initiative has been created to fund the delivery of services that help address these issues. The Real Care app is the first step. Together with the Rise conferences, we’re having open and honest conversations about what is going on and how we can rise to address the issues and be better.”
According to the Revive Project research, burn-out is common among agents because, against a background of commission-based payments, they choose the number of hours to work and how and when to contact existing clients.
Revive says the commission-based nature of the work drives agents to work far beyond a 38-hour week. As a result, many reported “emotional exhaustion” and said they continually questioned their accomplishments.
This stalled personal development and created “role ambiguity”, says the research citing a “complex interaction” of three factors – poor supervision and a lack of autonomy and co-worker support – as “responsible for professional burn-out”.
In response, Rise has produced the Real Care app to help agents manage their financial situation, access practical advice on dealing with on-the-job stress and build resilience.
The key features of the Real Care app include:
Wellbeing Check – This is a series of tools that allow an agent to self-assess their stress levels, emotional mood and sleep patterns. Agents can also access exercise tips to help reduce stress levels after a difficult encounter.
Real Budget – Agents can create an easy-to-read budget of income and outgoings that will help track spending and stay in control of their financial situation. Agents can also enter savings goals and work towards them.
Self-Care – Lifestyle tips, techniques to improve sleep habits and an exercise guide are included in this part of the Real Care app.
Call Backup – Agents can find details of professional organisations if they need immediate help and contacts of family and friends to talk to during a stressful period.
Progress Tracker – An agent’s data is retained so they can review the self-assessments of their wellbeing, stress levels and sleep patterns and measure the improvements.
Mr Kennett, who has spent more than 25 years elevating the issues of anxiety and suicide, congratulated Rise.
“Thank you for going to an extraordinary effort,” he said. “Congratulations to Rise for recognising the need.”
He observed the Real Care app addressed two essential aspects of an agent’s life – reliability of income and how to manage their budget. “So often in life,” he said, “financial issues lead to stress and anxiety.”
This affected not only professional performance but an agent’s home life, he said.
“Admitting an issue exists is the first step to recovery,” Mr Kennett added. “Hopefully, this app will be carried by every real estate agent, and they will share it with their families. I look forward to seeing this app work for everyone in the industry.”