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Employee Engagement

The latest multifamily research and data regarding the impact of employee engagement on resident retention, online reputation, and revenue growth.

One Size Does Not Fit All When It Comes to Employee Turnover

Pay increases. Referral incentives. Expanded benefits. Apprentice programs. Signing bonuses. Our managers and human resources teams have been working so hard to find, entice, and secure applicants and new hires. The labor shortage is being felt in every market, and short-staffed teams are doing their best to carry on. While it’s important to continue to be creative and support the hiring process, it’s equally important to be mindful of your current team and all that they are doing to manage your business. According to the Q2 2021 Swift Bunny Turnover Report, the average overall employee turnover was 47%, with some maintenance and leasing positions exceeding 50%. While all employee categories represented by the Swift Bunny Index agreed they would like to see improvement in compensation, incentives, and advancement opportunities, there were some differences in what mattered most to Maintenance Team Members and Leasing Team Members. Maintenance: What Matters Most Service team members shared that they generally enjoy good relationships with their co-workers and feel like they know who to reach out to when and if they need assistance. However, a consistent source of frustration is a sense that their contributions are taken for granted and are not recognized or appreciated. This lack of perceived value is reinforced when they are left out of internal company communication or when they have to wait days or weeks for a response to a question or request. What you can do: Say thank you. Acknowledge the critical contribution the maintenance team provides in their serv......
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Why 1 in 4 On-Site Managers May Leave Their Companies in the Next 12 Months

                   While the rental industry has been brainstorming new and better ways to find or retain Maintenance Techs and Leasing Professionals, a new threat has been silently growing with very significant reach. Over the past year, our employee engagement data has shown On-Site Property Managers’ intention to remain with their company slowly shift from “Very Likely” to an increasing response of “Neutral,” and “Unlikely.”  This rising level of uncertainty is certainly understandable. Since March 2020, On-Site Managers have dealt with new and changing situations on a daily basis, with no frame of reference or past experience to draw from. Not only did community offices close, requiring a sudden shift to a remote workforce, but policies, procedures, and processes had to be created and rolled out guiding everything from which service requests the maintenance teams would be allowed to address, to amenity shutdowns, to disinfection requirements, to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement, to rent collection and notice restrictions, not to mention the management of a stressed-out team, increasing resident calls/complaints/concerns, skyrocketing package management, etc., etc., etc. It’s been a year, to say the least. While there has always been a segment of managers who are unsure about their likelihood to remain with their company, that number has typically hovered around 12%, with one or two percent expecting to depart in the next twelve months. In 2020, however, that uncertainty increased to 15%. Unfortunately, five months into 2021 the numbers are looking even more bleak. 18% of On......
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Is Responding to Your Co-Worker’s Email Really Urgent? Here’s the Tea

------ We’ve all been there: a resident or client has a time-sensitive or decision-influencing question, and we realize a co-worker or different department holds the answer. We send an email requesting the information, and then… we wait. If we’re lucky, the response comes right away, but many times it can be hours, days, even a week or more before getting the answer we need. And until that response comes in, our work idles, our resident or client goes unsatisfied, and we may become increasingly anxious or frustrated by the delay. Is it unreasonable to expect a prompt reply to an email? Let’s explore. Our employee engagement surveys ask employees to what extent they agree with this statement: "Issues I raise are responded to within 24 hours by my supervisor, peers, or other departments." Depending on your role within a property management company, the experience can be quite different. According to the 2020 Swift Bunny Index: 83% of Corporate Operations employees (executives, director-level, department heads) agreed that they receive responses within 24 hours. However, the rest of the organization has a very different experience. Here’s the breakdown for everyone else: Only 59% of On-Site Team Members (Management, Leasing, Maintenance) and 57% of Corporate Support Services (Accounting, Marketing, Human Resources, IT, Administrative staff) agree that they receive a response within 24 hours. But this begs the question, is 24 hours a reasonable time frame to expect a response from a co-worker? For this, I posed that very question in Multifamily ShareSpace on Facebook t......
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Diversity and Inclusion is More Than an HR Initiative

  Over the past several months, there have been many articles, forums, discussions, focus groups, and webinars on the need for more diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business. And while there have been many valuable points made and practices shared, there are three themes that have particularly stood out to me. 1. Diversity and Inclusion is not an HR initiative. I really appreciate hearing the clear stance that diversity, equity, and inclusion is NOT simply an HR initiative. I absolutely agree that it's not. It's a company value that can only be successful when it begins with executive leadership, whether that means the owner, CEO, president, or leadership team - it starts squarely with them. Based on a recent Swift Bunny Employee Engagement Study, out of the Top 10 things that matter most to employees, the 3 common topics that are shared between Corporate, Regional and On-Site employees are:   Senior management creates a positive work environment  I respect senior management  Senior management has communicated a clear vision for the company  How executive leadership talks to, talks about, includes, encourages, promotes, challenges, and values each employee is noticed and emulated. Diversity and inclusion begins with them. Human resources certainly manages many key aspects, but their work will never achieve real and enduring change without action from the top. 2. The Importance of a Diversity and Inclusion Employee Survey I've been very impressed and heartened at the number of multifamily companies who are considering or have already rolled out a Diversity......
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Anonymous vs. Confidential Surveys – What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

          I am a whole-hearted believer in the power of employee feedback to help companies understand their team members’ collective experience. It allows leaders to gain clarity on what’s working well and what is getting in the way of employee engagement and overall business performance. Employee feedback is only valuable, however, if employees feel comfortable and safe in providing their candid thoughts and experiences and believe their input will influence positive change. The most common ways of providing this level of assurance is to conduct anonymous or confidential surveys – and yes, there’s a difference! Anonymous Approach: Pros and Cons What Defines an Anonymous Survey? An anonymous survey does not include any identifying information, and therefore responses can not be tied back to any individual participant. Pros: These types of surveys are most often deployed by giving all potential respondents the same survey link, removing any administrative burden from the employer. An employer would simply send one mass email to all employees with one common link. Cons: Since the survey link is not tied to any particular employee record, a single employee could take the survey multiple times, skewing the response rate as well as the overall results. If trying to gather demographic factors, such as their position, department, or geographic location, there is a higher likelihood of error, whether from user error or a deliberate desire to mask their identity. In addition, research indicates that accuracy can slightly diminish on anonymous surveys. In an act referred......
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The Impact of COVID-19 on Multifamily Employees

The COVID-19 pandemic brought schools, commerce, commuting, travel, and more to a halt, and it changed A LOT of how we operate apartment communities - nearly overnight! And yet, while many things changed for most of the U.S., multifamily employees had the challenge of figuring out how to continue to provide service and support for residents who were now home 24/7 for months on end. In our Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Impact Study, we explored how multifamily employees were feeling and faring during so much change. Here are some of the highlights we found: Employees feel well-informed More than 85% of multifamily employees agree they feel well-informed, and nearly as many feel they are getting the information they need that is relevant to their jobs.  WARNING! Many executives, upon hearing this great feedback, shared they were considering pulling back on the volume and frequency of communication. The theme we heard from employees loud and clear was that they still need and want that level of communication. As different cities and states consider re-opening, re-closing, or limiting amenities, services, events, and more, there is still a lot of information to share. Keep talking! Employees are listening.  Companies are taking care of their residents Employees overwhelmingly agreed that they were confident in the support provided to residents. While there were - and are - logistical challenges, such as office closures and emergency work orders only, employees felt companies were providing information and creative options to keep residents comfortable in their homes. New ......
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Keep Talking. Employees are Listening.

       As we look toward entering a new phase of management during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to survey multifamily employees to see how they are feeling about the ever-evolving situation. Data from the Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey shows that employees' feeling of safety in carrying out their responsibilities tracks with the level of communication and leadership visibility they are experiencing. In other words, the more leaders communicate directly with their teams, the greater the employees' feeling of safety in completing their work.  In speaking with leaders of 30 property management companies, there is a universal perception that it's time to take the foot off the gas pedal regarding company communication, now that we're through the initial tidal wave of change that arose due to the pandemic.  "We're turning into Zoombies!" commented one employee, which perfectly represents the fatigue many team members are feeling in regard to the volume of meetings we all seem to be having. However, while I may agree that the quantity of meetings may need to be toned down, the quality of communication is still critically important. Polling conducted with hundreds of multifamily employees during webinars over the past few weeks shows a shift from general feelings of uncertainty to concerns about how their communities are addressing or planning to address re-opening. In addition, beginning on May 18th, the data from the Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey has shown the rating trending downward on the topic of, "I feel well-informed ......
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Leadership by Transparency

        We hear you loud and clear, multifamily employees: you want your leaders to be loud and clear! Over the past 6 weeks, more than 2,600 rental housing employees have responded to the Swift Bunny Covid-19 Employee Check-In Survey.  In that span of time, we've seen a significant increase in employees expressing that they Agree or Strongly Agree that their company is providing important and transparent information that is relevant to their job. What started out in early April as an industry average of 4.27 out of 5 has grown to 4.47 out of 5! Increasingly, we see employee comments such as these: "I think our company has done a great job communicating policies and keeping its residents and employees safe." "I feel that upper management has been very supported throughout all if this.  The emails have been uplifting.  We are feeling well-informed." The topics of "transparent communication" and "leadership visibility" have been tracking incredibly closely over the course of the survey, which is a message that executives need to hear. This tells us that employees not only crave information that is relevant to their day-to-day responsibilities and the state of the company, but they crave hearing it from the top. This is a lighthouse moment that we're seeing more and more successful leaders embrace. However, while we're seeing a positive trajectory on transparent communication and leadership visibility, we're seeing the need for a different kind of information and support at every level of the organization. Increasingly, ......
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The One Vacancy You Want During the Pandemic

     Ivory tower. Corner office. Private beach. La-La Land. Hidey-hole. It's been called many things recently in our COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey, but ultimately it's the place some employees believe their executive leadership has been hunkering down while front line employees feel they are personally putting their health and safety at risk.  I say "some employees," because the great news is that 85.2% of rental housing employees agree that their executive leadership has been visible and communicative during the COVID-19 pandemic. That's more than 5 out of 6! Whether conducting weekly virtual Town Hall meetings with all employees, showing up at different communities to help sanitize common areas, personally delivering a much needed supply of masks, or announcing new work-from-home guidance to reduce face-to-face interactions in the leasing office - leaders across the country are demonstrating that they won't ask their team members to do anything they are not willing to personally do themselves. Ivory tower = Vacant! A key benefit of seeing executive leadership in action is the strong correlation to the employees' perception that leadership is making good decisions in response to the pandemic. Employees want to have confidence in the direction they are being given. These recent findings support what we learned through the Swift Bunny Multifamily Employee Engagement Study, that "Respect for executive leadership" is one of the strongest influencers on employee engagement.  Employee engagement is critical for every property management company in order to successfully pull through a crisis. It's what enables each team ......
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Four Guidelines for Leading your Property Management Team through the Pandemic

With so much information, advice, news, resource links, and speculation swirling around the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are looking to company leadership for answers and instruction. Because the crisis continues to unfold rapidly, company leaders must be willing and able to be nimble in their distilling of information, making decisions, and getting those decisions out to the field. Here are four guidelines to consider when making decisions in response to COVID-19: 1. Provide daily updates The local, national, and global picture is changing constantly, and often seems to be picking up speed. As a result, weekly updates aren’t always providing the critical information to the employees who need it. Whether through a living document that all employees can access or a daily email with a state of the company, provide a trusted source of information and guidance that your employees can rely on for the latest and greatest. 2. Form a leadership cabinet Because there is so much information to sift through, a small, trusted circle of leaders is needed to make swift, critically thought-through decisions. Too many voices can slow the flow and speed of information, but too few perspectives can leave room for imbalance and knee-jerk reactions. Identify a strong, well-balanced few, and allow them to make rapid, tactical decisions in response to real-time issues. 3. Address critical areas of concern Employee Resources – Health and well-being is top of mind for employees, so access to information regarding customer interactions, health insurance, sanitizing equipment and supplies, and more is in hig......
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