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Should I stay or should I go?

publication date: Aug 4, 2010
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interviewHere we are well over half way through the year already, and what a year of contrasts we have seen so far. The only thing that seems to be predictable about the market right now is its unpredictability!

So what is happening in the world of estate agency as far as hiring and firing is concerned? Some of you will recall our report in the June issue of PROPERTYdrum: “The jobs are out there, but where are applicants?” In this article we discussed the lack of quality job seekers and the reasons behind it. Frustratingly for us (and our clients), this situation has, if anything, worsened, with a rising number of unfilled vacancies in estate agency.

Inevitably, this has had a negative knock-on effect when it comes to recruiting staff with counter-offering rearing its ugly head more and more. A counteroffer is where a candidate goes through the process of making a career move, gets offered a new job and then goes back to his/her existing employer to resign and gets offered more money or promotion, for example, to stay. From an employer’s or recruiter’s point of view, this can be extremely irksome, especially as so much valuable time can be wasted in the process. Whilst it is almost impossible to eradicate this annoying occurrence, in an attempt to combat the counter offer it is worth reminding the candidate of one or more of the following:

• Ask the candidate what type of company they work for, if they have to threaten to resign before they get given what they are worth?
• The same reasons that now cause the candidate to consider a change will almost certainly repeat themselves in the future, even if they accept a counter offer.
• Where is the money for the counter offer coming from? Is it their next pay rise coming early?
• Their company may immediately start looking for a new person at a cheaper price.
• Having made their employer aware that they are unhappy, their loyalty will be in question.
• When promotion time comes around, their employer will remember who has been loyal and who hasn’t.
• If times get tough, their employer may begin cutbacks with them.

Interestingly, statistics show that candidates accepting a counter offer invariably leave their existing employer within the next 3-6 months anyway; what a complete waste of time for all concerned!

Another question we are continuously being asked is what effect is this market having on salaries? As with the supply of properties coming to the market, a lack of them will usually push prices up and the same is true of salaries when there is a shortage of candidates. With many estate agencies still suffering from the financial impact of the recession, and the continued uncertainty of the market ahead, employers are still very reluctant to raise salaries. It’s a difficult balance though.

Whilst employers are keen to keep their overheads manageable, investment in people is crucial to the health, wealth and wellbeing of any company. In such testing economic times, maintaining the feelgood factor among staff is more important than ever.

Continuing on the subject of salaries, more employers are having to provide improved ‘guarantees’ or other ‘golden hellos’ to entice the best candidates to join them. With conditions having improved, most candidates moving from one company to another will be walking away from a decent pipeline and they will consequently need compensating for this.

AtAnthony Hesse Property Personnel we provide figures monthly that go towards creating a survey that is produced by the REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) of which we have been members for over 10 years and the highly respected accountancy firm KPMG.

This survey provides the most up-to-date monthly picture of recruitment, employment, staff availability and employee earning trends available in the UK labour market. Whilst estate agency is only a very small part of this market it was very interesting to note that two of the key points from last month’s survey were mirrored by our experiences; a continued rise in permanent staff placements, albeit the slowest since February, and that a shortage of candidates had caused salaries to rise. We can confirm that we have definitely witnessed a slight increase in basic salaries which can be directly attributed to organisations not only trying to recruit the best staff, but just as importantly trying to retain them.

Property Personnel continuously monitors the market and salary advice is something we offer to our clients, giving them peace of mind that they are remaining competitive. For further information, please contact Anthony Hesse on or visit