Burn Out and Wellbeing in Conveyancing
Conveyancing is a profession that requires a meticulous attention to detail, the ability to deal with complex matters, constant client contact, as well as managing many parties involved in a transaction. The profession no longer requires only the experience and expertise of a conveyancer but now the ability to manage people is essential and is arguably one of the biggest obstacles faced in the sector at the moment.
Burnout is a concern in the conveyancing industry as conveyancers face high workloads, tight deadlines, and continuous pressure to meet client expectations as well as managing a successful team.
In recent years, there has been controversy and criticism regarding the conveyancing process and in particular the complexity of the transaction and the lengthy timelines.
This has caused a negative cycle in the industry:
The impact of burnout
Burnout has both mental and physical implications on both the individual’s personal life and their working life. The mental and physical impact of burnout can include:
Anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion. The constant pressure to perform and the fear of making errors can take a toll on mental health. This is often difficult for a firm to recognise, monitor and address as it is often well hidden for some time.
Physical Health: Prolonged stress and burnout can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and weakened immune systems. These issues can lead to periods of sick leave which disrupt the business and increases stress to all involved.
Deteriorating Work-Life Balance: The demanding nature of conveyancing can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which is crucial for overall wellbeing.
What practical steps can be taken to reduce stress and burnout in the profession?
Conveyancers have conduct of multiple cases simultaneously and at times, the caseload can be extremely high in volume. This high caseload, combined with adhering to regulations, paperwork, potentially complex matters as well as client contact and estate agent updates can be overwhelming. It is important for leaders to manage caseloads and the amount of work they take on to help their conveyancers manage resource without increased stress.
The use of technology to speed up and streamline the conveyancing process in recent times has resulted in firms increasing the capacity of conveyancers’ workloads. However, we now live in world whereby everything is expected to be instant and this has led to an increase in client demand on the conveyancer which has had a negative impact on the Conveyancers time.
Managing client expectations is becoming increasingly more difficult. An Amazon prime culture of the next generation of buyer is going to lead to more challenges for firms to manage expectations, speed up transaction timelines and keep costs reasonable, all whilst ensuring their conveyancers aren’t being pushed to breaking point. There is a general expectation that firms will be adopting technology to speed up transaction timelines but it’s critical to manage client expectations at each stage of the process and build their understanding of why there may be delays.
It is essential to be in a position to manage client’s expectations as early in the transaction as possible. The identification of possible title defects or building issues which may need to be rectified and therefore may cause a completion delay, need to be explained to the client as soon as possible to reduce stress later on in the transaction.
Regulation in the industry is constantly evolving, with regular changes to guidance and legislation, staying up to date adds to the challenges for conveyancers. The compliance measures that have been made mandatory in the conveyancing process, whilst essential, take time and can cause stress.
Long Working Hours
Most conveyancers are guilty of working weekends or working extra to progress their matters. Whilst this is often because conveyancers are working towards a positive outcome for their client, this adds additional pressure and if done or expected on a regular basis causes a significant disruption to the work/life balance of the conveyancer. It is essential that conveyancing firms encourage and promote the benefits of a work/life balance they need – it’s been proven that having the right work/life balance increases productivity.
How can we reduce burnout and promote wellbeing within Conveyancing?
There are many ways in which firms and leaders can support their teams to recognise when they may be experiencing burnout and to put processes in place to ensure that the wellbeing of their conveyancers is paramount at all times.
Training and Development: Continuous professional development can help conveyancers stay updated with changing regulations and improve their efficiency.
Standards within firms. It is essential that conveyancers are in a position to give their time and attention to support staff and those less experienced, in recognising the importance of wellbeing in the workplace as well as passing on their conveyancing expertise. Conveyancers learn processes and methods of working from those in senior positions and so standards and ways of working should be implemented through leadership.
Mental Health Support: Firms should prioritise mental health support, offering resources such as counselling, stress management programs, and promoting open discussions about mental health.
Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, including taking regular breaks and using their leave.
Technology Adoption: Using technology can streamline processes, reduce time spent on time consuming tasks as well as give conveyancers more time to update their client. This can have a huge impact on their workday and reduce the stress on conveyancers.
Support: Having an experienced, reliable and committed team can improve productivity in a conveyancing department and reduce stress levels. Firms can also consider outsourcing services to assist with the peaks and troughs of the conveyancing market to help ease stress levels at the busiest times during the year.
Due to the nature of the profession, conveyancing is typically a highly stressed role, meaning more people can become burnt out, negatively impacting not only the individual, their business and the industry as a whole. The more conveyancers who leave the industry due to burnout, the more we are losing experience, knowledge and expertise. Firms need to address this issue and develop policies to ensure the retention of experienced conveyancers by building a more sustainable, wellbeing focused environment.