We’ve talked here a couple of times about the doom and gloom environment that has seemingly been ushered in with the end of the world…er…end of the refinance-dominated market cycle. But while the headlines have almost invariably included words like “layoffs, rate hikes, decreased volume and margin compression,” the attitude we’ve experienced at various user groups and conferences this spring has been anything but that. The tone we’ve experienced has been what we’d hoped for. More of a “let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.” We applaud that.
As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness month, we also want to remind mortgage professionals—executives and employees alike—that, while a 24/7 doom-and-gloom perspective helps absolutely nobody, we are in for some hard work and disappointments in the coming year. Well, when it’s put that broadly, we can probably expect that for the rest of our lives, regardless of the market. And, in some ways, that is exactly the point. This is not a life-or-death market. In fact, this is not a life-or-death industry. So don’t make it that way for your employees and don’t put it on yourself.
The execs and managers who support team members will be the winners
As rates rise and tough corporate decisions are made in the coming months, perspective and support will be crucial. For those managing others, ratcheting up the pressure does not ratchet up performance. Far from it. What it does is ratchet up personnel attrition rates. If anything, this competitive market will require good people collaborating with and supporting each other for good results. If this sounds like common sense it is, and yet, ours has a well-developed reputation for being devoted to the “burnout culture.” If ever, we’re willing to bet that in the next two years, the mortgage employers who foster employee morale and provide robust mental health resources are not-coincidently the same firms with strong employee retention rates; more innovative ideas and even higher productivity. And it won’t be because their bonus incentives are higher.
The professionals and employees who are kind to themselves will make winners out of everyone
Employees, find the time for yourself. Not everyone gets unlimited PTO. Too many have minimal mental health coverage. And not every work environment is healthy—that’s true in any industry. However, no one employee is so “mission-critical” that his or her absence when ill or on vacation that his or her business closes because of that absence. You’re probably just made to feel that way. More than ever, when times get more stressful, it’s time to allow little rewards; take a moment here and there, and above all, realize that your job is only part of your life. Even just being able to quickly move past a mistake or failure and learn from it without carrying it around for an extended time will help you, your teammates and even your business.
Innovation doesn’t have to be limited to mortgage technology
And for the mortgage industry, we’d love to see more examples of tradition-breaking approaches to mental health and office culture. That can’t be done just from the top down or bottom up. It has to be clearly and strategically planned (like just about anything else worth doing), and it needs to be executed consistently. Too often, we’ve heard stories of employers who promise weeks of PTO, for example, only to make it nearly impossible to use that time without negative consequences.
This will not be the worst market we’ve ever seen. Far from it. If anything, there will be plenty of “winners” on the spread sheets. But the real winners will be those who come through the more challenging times without feeling like they’ve been dragged through the wringer to get there.
And now, for something different
By the way, we’ve introduced something new and a little different recently. We call it “A Tale of Two Mortgages” (shout out to our own Tim Austen for making it a reality) and it’s a cartoon focused on…the mortgage industry.
The mortgage industry does a terrible job of self-reflection (outside of private dinners or convention happy hours) and, when it does take the time, it’s not positive often enough. This industry needs a little more humor. So we’re going to do our little part. Let us know if we’re hitting the mark! If you have any crazy stories and hilarious experiences working in the mortgage industry, please don’t hesitate to share them with firstname.lastname@example.org.