What HR issues do letting agents face?

What HR issues do letting agents face?

Last month, Team Nantwich’s Team Captain Zoe Connings sat down with Employment Law Solutions’ Kevin Murphy, of Team Stoke Friday, to discuss common HR headaches that can be problematic for letting agents.

Kevin and Zoe first met at a NetworkIN event a few years previously. Zoe had loved hearing about how HR advisor Kevin had helped employers and their staff, but never thought it would be something the team at Amplo® Lettings would need.

In December 2020, Amplo Lettings decided it was time to expand and hire its first member of staff – not just any member of staff, but an apprentice. The team knew there was a lot of legislation surrounding hiring an apprentice due to their age, but with Employment Law Solutions (ELS) on hand to guide Zoe and the team, it was a total breeze.

From the very start, ELS were brilliant,  providing  Amplo® Lettings with guidance ranging from from how to prepare contracts and an employee handbook, to calculating holidays and answering staff queries.

Zoe, who is the owner of Amplo® Lettings,  sat down with Kevin to discuss, and help to raise awareness of, the importance of working with a legal service such as  Employment Law Solutions for lettings agents.

Kevin: “When you were looking at taking on staff, what was your thought process and logic behind sourcing contracts of employment and employee handbooks. Did you know what you needed to do to employ someone safely?”

Zoe: “No, is the short answer. I think because I spent so much time being on the other side, being an employee, I wanted to make sure we got it right because I know how much knowledge employees have and how quick they are to Google something and find out whether it is best practise, and something their employer should be doing. Luckily, I did know the team at Employment Law Solutions beforehand and we knew the sort of issues they were resolving, as well as the standard that was being done at. Therefore, it was a very quick decision for us – let’s speak to Employment Law Solutions.”

Kevin: “In terms of that onboarding process with Employment Law Solutions, as well as you onboarding your first member of staff, how did you find that?

Zoe: “I found it surprisingly simple, with your help, of course. At the start I found it overwhelming due to not hiring staff before. We were in the middle of a pandemic with lockdown issues resulting in us not knowing if we could conduct interviews, whether we could call them back for an interview, or if it would all have to be on Zoom. There were so many problems we had faced before even employing staff. When we initially spoke to Employment Law Solutions and started that process, we expected there to be a lot of paperwork to sign and read through, but having Employment Law Solutions there throughout made the process simpler.

Kevin: “Would you say that the documents we drafted together were suitable for your business? That they met all of your requirements and needs, as well as everything that you want for your business and  the management of that relationship?”

Zoe: “Yes, definitely, while Amplo Lettings is part of Amplo Group we have got other arms to the business. We are not just a property management company, we have got a commercial finance brokerage, agricultural finance and property development company. It is not just about employing letting agents and property managers, it is employing other roles such as a marketing manager, a finance director and other various roles.

“With the contracts we have, we know they are going to cover all the roles in the future as they are specific to our business. This is great for when we do get to a stage where we may want to employ a role slightly differently – for instance, our first employee was an apprentice so their agreement will be different to a full-time employee. We know that Employment Law Solutions are there for that, which is great.

Kevin: “In terms of the future of the estate agency and lettings industry, what do you think are going to be the biggest issues within the industry in the next 3-6 months?”

Zoe: “Personally, in our sector, with the lifting of lockdown, we will be getting staff back into the office so we are going to have to make sure we have the precautions in place to make sure they feel comfortable. So, that they can come back in and know that they are a good distance apart and there are masks, wipes and hand sanitiser available. Also that they know that the office is being cleaned regularly, even by external cleaners. It’s about adapting that to the workplace and making sure our employees are happy.

“Specifically for the estate agency and letting sector there is a big aspect of going out and conducting face-to-face viewings and going into houses that, yes, may be empty but, where Amplo Lettings specialises in houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s), there are going to be other tenants in the property. It’s about making sure that as a business we’ve got everything in place and that our employees are happy to go out and conduct viewings and, equally, that prospective tenants are as well.”

Kevin: “In essence, you think one of the biggest issues is going to be people’s acceptance to an element of risk? Even though in society the risk of Coronavirus is reducing there is still an element of risk there and we need to understand the best way to manage that.”

Zoe: “Yes, definitely, and from a non-Coronavirus point of view, Amplo Lettings has just had a new employee start, so when they are in the office along with the rest of the team we need to understand how those dynamics will work because they have been working from home for quite a long time. Managing those dynamics and those relationships through the whole team is important as well.”

Kevin: “Finally Zoe, If you were talking to anyone else in your industry who said they were struggling with a particular member of staff or have got a HR headache or an employment law problem, what would your advice be to them?”

Zoe: “It would be to speak to Employment Law Solutions. There are so many easy, free things that people can get online but it’s not sector-specific and not even business-specific. The way we run our lettings agency may be different to how other letting agents run theirs. For me, the main thing that Employment Law Solutions is great at is the bespoke element and I think that is really what employers need.”

If you have any HR questions get in touch with Kevin and the team at Employment Law Solutions on 01270 781006.

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