A top concern among real estate executives and brokers is agent recruitment and retention. Indeed, 78 percent of survey participants in the 2018 Imprev Thought Leader Study stated that recruiting more agents is their most critical business challenge.
As real estate firms ramp up their recruiting efforts this year, it’s crucial for their onboarding processes to effectively get an increased number of new recruits up to speed. But oftentimes, those processes just add more piles of paperwork. So how can real estate companies efficiently manage the onboarding process?
Tools That Make the Onboarding Process Easy
First, a typical onboarding process is organized so that new recruits gradually learn the essential skills to be successful in their jobs, starting with basic introductions for new agents and then focusing on in-depth knowledge for seasoned agents. Much of this takes place in the form of classroom trainings, eLearning programs, and self-learning activities. With a mix of in-person and remote trainings, it can be challenging to track the status of the onboarding process. Brokers can create an agent training checklist, which will also help managers to see where new agents are in their onboarding.
In an ideal environment, each onboarding document is associated with the correct onboarding phase. And once these phases and trainings are established, the process should be automated to speed training and ensure consistency across the pool of new agents. When a new agent starts, the system should automatically assign relevant learning requirements to that person, identify forms they need to fill out, and tag relevant staff so that they’re aware and can take action.
Usability is key as onboarding processes evolve. Lessons learned should translate to immediate changes in agent training plans, and making changes to the plans should be easy for managers, HR staff, or trainers to complete. Allowing seamless access to all training content across different devices is also important so users can review some training materials outside the office.
Onboarding processes and the systems that support them are key factors for ensuring that new agents start off on the right foot. A streamlined onboarding process with minimal document-related hiccups and delays enables recruits to focus more on becoming successful in their jobs.
Securing Data on Independent Agents
The next step is to secure the personal data agents disclose in onboarding paperwork and other documents. In the wake of high-profile data breaches at Yahoo!, Equifax, and Facebook, sensitivity around the security of personal information is at an all-time high.
Document security can no longer consist of just locking a confidential form in a filing cabinet or hiding sensitive information in network file folders. Each real estate firm has its own unique spot on the paper-to-electronic document management spectrum. However, the master versions of these documents—such as independent contractor agreements—are often still paper copies. Proliferating versions of documents containing sensitive data not only puts HR departments at risk, but they also complicate the end-of-life processes when both the paper and electronic documents must be destroyed
When employee and agent data needs to be stored, moved, and/or shared, it’s important to have the proper security protocols in place to ensure that confidential content can only be accessed by authorized individuals. An alarming number of data breaches stem from employees leaking or mishandling data, whether it be intentional or unintentional. Version control of your agent contractor agreements, employee W-4s, and other documents is also crucial for HR compliance. When searching for and viewing a document, are you looking at the single source of truth, or are there ten different versions held in ten different places, such as desktops and other unmonitored systems (e.g. Dropbox)? In a recent Dimensional Research survey, two-thirds of respondents claimed they found different versions of documents and files in different systems and locations.
Today’s solutions can put security protocols in place to restrict document access to relevant staff members, thus reducing the number of points of contact on documents containing sensitive information. Document management systems that allow colleagues to collaborate on the same document together can help to prevent challenges with version control. This type of system would also be helpful for long-term security of closing documents, leases, legal correspondence, tax returns, and other important records. These systems identify the one document that is the single “source of truth” and easily show changes and who made them, preventing questions about who a document has been approved by and where it stands in the process.
Automation Ensures Smooth Processes
With so much recent emphasis on recruiting efforts in the real estate industry, it’s important for real estate firms to have the proper infrastructure to support recruitment and onboarding for new agents. Today’s technology can provide unparalleled visibility, ease of use, and automation, not only into where the agent is in the onboarding and training processes but also all other documents that contain their personal agent, employee, and even client data. Once the backend is taken care of, agents have full reign to focus on what matters most: closing sales and driving business for their respective firms.