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What To Do When You Have Too Much To Do

Business rush can lead to burnout. Here’s how to cool things down.

Erica LaCentra headshot
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Erica LaCentra
A man's tired face is covered with sticky notes reminding him to relax.

Loan volume continues to remain high in most areas of the mortgage industry and the investor space is no exception. SFR, bridge loans, and build-to-rent are booming and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In turn this is causing a massive increase in business for lenders. Lenders may be finding that they have more business than they can handle and while many are hiring additional staff to support this newfound volume, it takes time to hire and train new employees. 

So, in the meantime, many companies are relying on the staff they have to work much longer hours to ensure business keeps moving along and loans are getting closed. While no one wants to complain about an influx of business, especially after the pandemic turned the industry on its head, working long hours day after day, week after week, is not sustainable. Employee burnout is a real problem even if companies don’t want to acknowledge it, but in order to not suffer the potential fallout from pushing employees too hard, companies need to not only recognize it, but they need to be proactive to ensure it doesn’t occur in the first place. 

Recognizing Burnout Issues

As many employees were forced to move to working remotely because of the pandemic, it made it more and more difficult to keep work from creeping into their personal lives. Being just steps away from a home office on the weekend or being unable to resist the urge to respond to one last email to get ahead on work became the norm for so many people in the mortgage industry because there was no longer that clear separation from work. Unfortunately, these habits have stuck around, and almost seem expected by many lenders for employees to continue to always be “on call” even as many employees have returned to working back in an office setting in some capacity. 

Yes, many lenders have tried offering additional incentives to their employees to reward them for grinding day after day but at a certain point, plain and simple, sometimes employees just need the ability to take time off without the fear of being shamed or feeling like they will be crushed by the weight of the work that will pile up in their absence. 

According to a recent Gallup study, some of the top reasons for employee burnout in the mortgage industry included an unmanageable workload coupled with the fear of falling behind should the employee take time off, lack of support from management, specifically when it came to being proactive about hiring to ensure employees didn’t have too much on their plates, and finally unreasonable time constraints to get tasks done so employees felt it was necessary to work long hours or on weekends just to meet deadlines. 

Avoidable

The most unfortunate thing about all these causes of employee burn out is they are entirely preventable. It’s important for management to have open communication with employees and recognizing when there is a need to hire additional employees rather than overloading their current work force. Also setting realistic deadlines and expectations for certain tasks and accepting that employees have limits to what they are able to take on are all things lenders need to get a better handle on if they want to retain their current workforce. 

Finally, lenders need to stop incentivizing employees to not use their time off or at the very least, stop shaming employees that do use the time off that they earn. There continues to be an unspoken stigma in the mortgage industry about taking time off. Account Executives especially are always expected to be available to take a phone call or answer an email regardless of the day or time. Lenders should take the time to establish a small team or at the very least a backup for each member of their sales team to allow employees to take time off when they need it.  

Break Time

When it comes down to it, pushing employees to the point of burning out may work to deal with increased volume in the short term but the long-term effects can be much more detrimental to a business. Employees that are over worked are shown to have decreased productivity over time, be less engaged with customers and are more likely to make errors in their work. Employees having to constantly be in work mode can often cause more harm than good. Plus, for burned out employees that have reached their breaking point and quit, it is much more disruptive to a business to have to take the time to hire and train a new employee than to allow a current employee to have a much needed uninterrupted vacation. Employees deserves down time to mentally recuperate to be able to come back to their jobs fresh and at the top of their game, and it is time that companies recognize that. 

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine July 2021 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is director of marketing for RCN Capital.

Published on
Jul 24, 2021
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