EXIT Realty: Making work meaningful
At EXIT, work isn't just about a paycheck. It's about leaving a legacy. EXIT puts its people first, empowering them "to live their why."
Selling houses is what EXIT Realty brokers and real estate agents do. But changing lives and improving futures is who they are.
"Our core philosophy revolves around the idea that work should be meaningful and that everyone, in every role, can leave a legacy," says Tami Bonnell, Co-Chair of EXIT Realty Corp. International.
That can mean anything from starting a charity to funding an extended family trip to Italy to mentoring colleagues to help them succeed.
"They can be doing something amazing for their families, doing something amazing for communities," she says. It's what EXIT calls "empowering people to live their why."
"On those days when it's really tough, you can remind yourself who you're doing it for and why you're doing it," Bonnell says.
It's an increasingly important notion in today's workplace, where employees overwhelmingly say they want to do work that is meaningful, not just take home a paycheck.
"It's always been there," Bonnell says of that desire, "but it probably accelerated during Covid."
Finding meaning in your work has been part of EXIT's ethos from the beginning. "Our entire organization is built on human potential," Bonnell says. "We've always put people first. And funnily enough, we've always made money."
Well before the pandemic, they had a chance to demonstrate it.
During the Great Recession, EXIT was running tight on money, and as a privately held company, it didn't have stockholders standing by to help make a cash infusion.
Faced with that crisis, its leaders had to ask some hard questions. "We talked about who we are as a company," Bonnell recalls. "We're a company built on human potential. During the worst recession since the Great Depression, we didn't lay off a single employee. We said, 'We're going to outsell and outwork ourselves out of this.'"
And they did. Instead of layoffs or widespread pay cuts, EXIT's leadership cut their own compensation to get the company through.
When Covid hit, Bonnell says, "We reached out to all of our people, and they had so much trust in us. They all raised their hands and said, 'How can I help?'" The result was hours of free training in everything from meditation to effective business communication in a lockdown.
"We really came together as a team," Bonnell says.
The loyalty to the company shows in the longevity of service. On average, top leaders have been with EXIT for 19 years. For all employees, the average tenure is 15.5 years, which Bonnell says is "unheard of."
EXIT's residual program is a big part of helping agents, brokers, franchisees and regional owners find meaning by helping them provide stability for themselves and their families for years to come. In addition to providing passive income while they're working, it also provides both retirement income and beneficiary incomes. "We have kids going to college because their grandmother made a good decision when she was here," Bonnell says. "We've done it from day one. We've done it since before it was cool."
She also points to the Spirit of EXIT, the company's charitable program funded by a portion of every transaction fee the company collects. EXIT offices and associates can raise money for local, approved, registered charities and apply to EXIT's head office to have those funds matched from the company's pool of funds. "Everybody feels part of something better," she says of the program, which has allocated more than $7 million to date. "Everybody feels part of something special."
And in today's world, that is worth more than any trophies or awards a company can give, Bonnell says.
"People want to matter now more than they ever have."