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Is Work-Life Balance in the Mortgage Industry a Myth?

Companies need to ensure employees can meet the needs of this demanding profession

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
Is Work-Life Balance in the Mortgage Industry a Myth?

With the boom the real estate market has been experiencing, especially over the last several years, it feels like every time I catch up with various colleagues in the mortgage industry, they all tell me the same thing, things are so busy, and they have never had to work at the pace they are now. Typically, folks justify it by saying things like, “I’d rather be busy than slow” or “It won’t be this good forever” or some variation of that line of thinking. As rates rise there seems to be even more pressure to work faster and be more available for clients to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible before the industry takes a turn.

However, there should be concern about working at a pace that is frankly not sustainable. Maintaining strong talent and avoiding burnout is a real challenge companies face if they are not careful. Also, it will be incredibly hard to attract new talent when the expectation is your life is your work. While the mortgage industry seems to be so incredibly good at accommodating their end clients, that comes with its cons. So, is it even possible to achieve a true work-life balance if you work in the mortgage industry, what steps can companies take to ensure their employees can have some sense of work-life balance in this demanding industry?

The Expectation of Around the Clock Availability

The mortgage industry and many jobs within the real estate industry are unique in that clients often expect their loan officers, agents or brokers to be accessible whenever they need them. Many originators are fielding calls and emails at all hours of the day and especially since the pandemic hit and people started working remotely, the existence of boundaries has all but disappeared.

Now while a company may view this as a boon for production because it causes numbers to skyrocket, there should be concern about what happens if that immense volume comes to a grinding halt because an employee can no longer handle that pace. At the end of the day, yes, an employee can always push the limits of how much they want to work, but it truly is the company that sets the tone and expectation of work-life balance. At a certain point, companies do need to recognize and tell their employees it’s OK to have a set capacity for your pipeline and you don’t always have to be at the beck and call of your clients.

Now does that mean originators should be ignoring their clients the second they call after 6 p.m.? Absolutely not. However, it means that it is OK to set boundaries with your clients upfront. Doing so from the start will ensure that there is an expectation set up front. In cases when you are able to go above and beyond, like taking a call later in the day or responding to an email on the weekend, you really shine in the eyes of your client.

Ever heard the phrase, “under promise and over deliver”? I’m not saying to do the bare minimum; however, no one ever likes the inverse of that situation. Then in emergency scenarios, which will always pop up, originators can still make themselves available, but at least now you will only be hopefully fielding the odd request here and there and leaving more time for yourself rather than running yourself ragged day in and day out.

Create a More Balanced Industry

It’s hard to imagine changing the mentality in the mortgage industry and it certainly won’t happen overnight. I’m personally guilty of not maintaining a healthy work-life balance. However, it really is necessary for organizations to recognize the lack of balance that exists and take steps to combat the harm this issue is causing for those that work within the industry. Why? Because a healthy work-life balance means healthier and happier employees, lower turnover, and better talent seeking employment in the mortgage industry.

So, while a true work-life balance may seem impossible now, for the sustainability of the mortgage industry it’s time to make sure it is within reach.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine May 2022 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
May 16, 2022
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