Managing Stress at work in Challenging Times
2020 has impacted on mental health at work and at home
It’s tough being a property manager, as an example, right? Always blamed when something goes wrong and let’s face it, if it doesn’t go right…. even if things are out of your control, it’s often you that gets it in the neck. Tenants expect maintenance to be done yesterday and when everything is working swimmingly that’s taken for granted. Am I right? You love being a PM, but it’s a thankless job.
Let’s going over what you are juggling on a weekly basis:
- collecting service charges
- ground rents
- basic accounting
- internal cleaning
- external cleaning
- tree care
- emergency works
- plumbing and electricians
- painting and decorating
- landlord and tenant law
- building construction
- health and safety regulations
A day in the life of a block manager takes into account most of these attributes!
- having full understanding of the structure and meaning of a lease
- thorough knowledge of relevant Landlord and Tenant legislation
- understanding tenants’ rights and obligations
- be committed to good customer service
- comply with relevant standards and codes of practice
- operate an independent complaints procedure
All whilst smiling!
No wonder so many of you are stressed, and the above is being done whilst having to adhere to Covid restrictions and regulations in 2020. Who knows how the effects of this virus will impact for years to come.
Triggers that cause stress for Property Managers
I read on Quora this statement from a PM:
“If you are not a workaholic, are lazy, disorganised, unreliable, have no accountability, cannot think on your feet, are unable to diffuse a potentially nasty situation, are not thick-skinned, and the list goes on, then this job is not for you.
I love the chaos and craziness of this job. However, it’s not for everybody.”
So much does come down to you, as a personality type. The team and I here at LMP Law are a tight unit and we keep our eyes on each other, it’s not so easy when working from home though is it? Zoom is 2D and our brains are trying to work extra hard to absorb this “face to face” yet virtual experience. You must read this article on Zoom Burnout to help understand this research.
Is it the service charge arrears that stress you? The daily calls from one particular tenant? The contractors not doing their job? Your managers asking too much of you? When you understand which aspect of your job it is that stresses you then you are better in a position to work out if you can tackle the stress or if you can ask for help in dealing with the problem.
What are your stresses?
Stress is not an illness, but the psychological impact can lead to anxiety and depression, which in turn can increase skin breakouts, back pain, gastro illnesses and of course headaches. ACAS is exceptional with helping employers and employees. Understanding what causes stress can really help dig deep into starting to resolve the anxiety. There are many reasons that might be causing you stress.
- The demands of your job (overload)
- Amount of control over work (do you have a say or are micromanaged?)
- Support – do you have enough support from your colleagues and managers?
- Relationships – understanding and resilience with colleagues
All of the above will affect the level of sickness absence, together with behaviour and trust problems relating to discipline, grievances and bullying.
We all know that being in a culture where there is a lack of communication and a feeling of bullying leads to sickness and then that impacts others, including tenants, contractors and can often end up with employment law issues or worse, negligence of your tenants or clients which could cause huge litigation costs.
ACAS have great research carried out here, entitled “Stress and Anxiety at Work : Personal or Culture”.
How can your Property Law colleagues help?
We know property law and leases inside out and are here to guide you and your colleagues through extremely complex lease issues. From helping with service charges and ground rent arrears to training via webinars concerns that impact your everyday life.
Cladding for the block management industry has seen tragedy and although ARMA are working hard with the government to ensure all buildings are safe, working with private and council owned blocks will no doubt be extra complicated right now.
This year has meant many contractors have had to self-isolate; tenants are poorly and in need of extra help; colleagues may be self-isolating or poorly; building works are still going on; rain still comes; roofs still leak; tenants still dispute their service charges.
Talking of Service Charges
Yep, when it comes to 2020 and Services Charges, we know that you and your tenants may not be on the same page.
Have you communicated with them about any changes that have had to occur because of Covid? As experienced property lawyers we know the costs involved in disputes stemming from communication breakdowns. Peter (Cornell) who often runs our webinars, has just been through a multimillion-pound mediation, which made our clients very happy.
On one hand, throughout Covid PMs have had to put in more hours and take on more contractors to ensure communal areas have the highest hygiene protection, but this also means more admin, contracts, and new compliances. That’s not to say that leaseholders should NOT pay their charges. Owning a flat comes with charges, they know that, so it’s no excuse not to pay. As mentioned above, communication is key. If a leaseholder begs for help regarding having a payment holiday (as an example), is this something you can offer, or is there a way to negotiate a payment plan?
When a leaseholder leaves unexpectedly and there are outstanding charges, who picks up the tab?
Our very own Bharath has just recovered arrears from an absent leaseholder now based in Hong Kong, so as your trusted legal team, we investigate, track, and get that payment for you! Now there’s a stress-free scenario!
Employer Government Help
There are SO many guidelines and updates on the Gov website that trawling through it all can be overwhelming in itself, so unless you have an HR or Employment Lawyer on hand, it’s going to be up to you as a manager or owner to look after your employees and look after your contracts.
Have employees been off sick? You can check if you can claim back statutory sick pay. Read this LINK.
Using the Job Retention Scheme? Here’s the update for who can use. READ HERE.
Remember, The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until 31 March 2021, but 30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
This year has seen its ups and downs like never before. The Gov seems to be trying its best to help businesses with grants, furlough schemes and loans, but if the anxieties and pressures are then transferred to employees or your own working life, it can be overwhelming. There are so many helplines but from our perspective, if you need legal help, please don’t put off a call that’s stressing you out, we don’t bite, we can probably help you.
In the meantime, the NHS have really great links and helpful tips. Here’s one I particularly like, “Stress, Anxiety, Depression”.
As always, if there is anything you’d like to chat about or have concerns with, we would love to hear from you. Here’s our contact link right HERE.