Behind every successful brokerage is a vibrant and dynamic culture that engages its employees. That culture starts from the top and must be modelled by strong leadership who practice what they preach. “No one on the team is bigger than the whole and that includes myself,” says Justin Havre of Havre & Associates of Re/Max First in Calgary.

Culture also requires a shared vision that realtors and other staff can embrace, in order to work effectively as a team. Havre believes that recruiting the right people from the start is essential: “We’re very selective about who we bring on board. We don’t have a blueprint for how to create the culture it’s the people we selected who have created it. 

“In our environment, it’s safe to be open and vulnerable and to share our struggles as well as our victories. We operate with an abundance mindset where agents will hand over a client to another agent because their plate is full, and they do this with zero expectations.”

Josh Gibson, a Winnipeg-based realtor with Goodfellow Realty, concurs on the importance of attracting like-minded talent with shared ethical beliefs. “We have very good teamwork and camaraderie,” he says. “We want people who will do the best for the client, not just look out for themselves.”

Those shared values permeate through the company, forming the backbone of a culture that has also been proven to benefit the financial bottom line. A 2019 Glassdoor survey found three out of four adults would consider the company’s culture before even applying, while more than half of employees prioritize workplace culture over their salaries when it comes to job satisfaction. 

In addition to keeping your employees happy, culture is a strong predictor for your business’s future financial performance. A 2021 survey by the Canadian Workplace Culture Index and the Angus Reid Institute found that due to diminishing workplace culture, 60% of employees would leave their current position for as little as a 10% increase in pay. The youngest Canadian employees were the most likely to leave. 

According to Gallup, company culture is the key to attracting the top 20% of candidates.

“The number one thing I look at when recruiting talent is personality. They must be a team player and understand we’re all here to help each other out, because real estate can be a 24/7 business” – Dave Dubbin, senior vice president of sales, Sotheby’s International Realty 

Five tips to build a company culture at your brokerage

Behind every successful brokerage is a vibrant and dynamic culture that engages their employees and gives them a sense of belonging and contribution. Here are five tips on building a strong culture for your real estate business.

     1. Make your company culture a business priority

Begin by making your company culture a business priority and allowing your team to participate in the process. Identify your core purpose and values and craft a mission statement that reflects them through asking yourself and your team the following questions:

  • Why does our company do what it does?
  • What do we want to do better?
  • What do we believe?
  • What is the vision for our company?

     2. Request feedback from real estate agents and staff

Survey your team why they chose to work with your brokerage. Be prepared to accept criticism and pay attention to any signs your corporate culture might not be working.Their honest feedback can be used to learn from your mistakes, further develop or take your culture in another direction, and recruit talent who share your values.

     3. Measure company culture

Measure your company culture to determine whether it is effectively attracting and engaging your talent. This can include both anecdotal and quantitative data. Some examples include examining employee turnover, retention and productivity rates, reviewing feedback from employee surveys, and reading anonymous reviews on employee sites such as Glassdoor.

     4. Be an example to your staff

A strong culture thrives when leadership practises their company values and champions others who do the same. This creates a feeling of psychological safety that enables employees to report concerns, stay proactive and keep motivated. “Our team is about having very open conversations and dialogues⁠. I will put it out there I’m feeling burnt out, how is everyone else feeling?’” says Dave Dubbin, senior vice president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty in Toronto.

“That’s my leadership style. So maybe we’ll plan a team event, or I’ll cover for everyone to ensure they’re taking a long weekend off and that they’re getting the down time they need.”

     5. Always reinforce core values

Develop ways to reinforce your core values. Some examples of this could include volunteering or donating to worthy causes in the community or rewarding realtors within your brokerage who have demonstrated that they practice your values. Taking these kinds of opportunities to grow and celebrate as a team can create a valuable sense of unity.

A strong workplace culture will help your employees feel safe, motivated and supported, contribute to your financial bottom line, and boost your overall brand.

Read more in our series on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in Canadian Real Estate Brokerages

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