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Multifamily Workplaces that Work

Exploring the issues that matter most to multifamily associates, including workplace satisfaction, performance, and employee engagement.

This Leadership Question Gets to the Heart of Employee Turnover

This Leadership Question Gets to the Heart of Employee Turnover
The work-related puzzle that fascinates me most is how multifamily leaders and supervisors can make their workplaces work well for the teams they lead. What does it take to turn work from drudgery to satisfying? How can managers create a workplace culture where property management teams want to stick around and build a career? Employee engagement influencer Jill Christensen has a stunningly simple technique for helping leaders understand what it’s like to work on their team. Do you want to know what your workplace culture is like? You won’t find the answer in your catchy corporate values statements or website marketing copy. The genuine, real-deal answer can be found in the response to this question: “How do we do things around here?” It’s a surprisingly straightforward question that gets to the heart of it all. For example:  When a new team member is hired, how do you welcome them? Is there fanfare and celebration and a well-thought-out onboarding program? Or are they thrown into the fire without so much as a tour of the property?    How frequently do your leasing associates get one-on-one time with their manager? Are there regularly scheduled meetings where they can talk about their goals, challenges, and plans for the future? Or are they lucky if the boss even makes eye contact on any given day?    What happens when your maintenance technician has a crisis, like his car breaks down or his mom dies? Is he treated with compassion and support—or fearful that he’ll lose his job if he......
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Hiring? Use Your Marketing & Sales Ingenuity

Hiring? Use Your Marketing & Sales Ingenuity
Are you short staffed? (Who isn’t, right?) Don’t think about this just as a staffing problem. Consider approaching it as a marketing and sales problem. Here’s what I mean. To fill your vacant positions, you may need to kick up your recruitment messaging to really win over employment candidates. After all, EVERYONE is hiring right now—from the community down the street to the retailers on every corner. You have a lot of competition for job candidates. If you want a chance of filling your empty seats, you need to stand out from the crowd. Here’s an example to inspire you. Check out the Texas Apartment Association Education Foundation’s Room to Grow campaign. They do an amazing job of telling the story of multifamily as an exciting, promising, long-term career choice loaded with upward mobility. They offer specific selling points of the various roles, and testimonials from people in the trenches. (Testimonials are marketing GOLD.) What could you borrow from this approach to improve your hiring efforts?   What marketing and sales skills can you direct at your staffing shortage to help you recruit new team members? Do you have success stories to share? I’d love to hear them! What’s worked well for you?     The labor shortage is real, and it’s not going away any time soon. It’s time to get creative and really sell all that you, as an employer, have to offer. There are people in your organization who excel at marketing and sales. Loop them into this challenge!  Co......
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Why are Employee Turnover and Resident Turnover So Closely Linked?

Why are Employee Turnover and Resident Turnover So Closely Linked?
Seasoned multifamily leaders know from experience when an apartment community suffers employee turnover in one or more key positions, such as the Manager or Maintenance Supervisor, increased resident turnover will likely follow. Why the connection? It boils down to these three factors: focus, competence, and familiarity. Focus  When an apartment community is plagued with high employee turnover, the focus of the remaining staff shifts from delivering dependably good service to putting out fires. A team that is short-staffed is by necessity operating in survival mode. They’re like physicians in an emergency room forced to give their attention only to the highest priority crises. They don’t have the luxury of concentrating on things like improving the resident experience; they simply have to make choices based on the fundamental question, “What do we need to do to get through the day?” This is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Operating in survival mode is so exhausting and tough on morale that it can easily cause the remaining team members to burn out. And the employee turnover continues. Competence By definition, a high-turnover workforce is a less experienced workforce. Newly-hired employees may be highly qualified and terrific people, but they lack the expertise and experience of more seasoned staff. While newly hired associates may be well-meaning, smart, and friendly, they don’t have the depth of knowledge that can more quickly lead to good service outcomes for your residents. As a result, your team’s overall ability to effectively serve your residents is compromised. If you’ve ever worked a......
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Your Team Members Want to Grow. Don’t Force Them to Quit in Order to Do So

Your Team Members Want to Grow. Don’t Force Them to Quit in Order to Do So
Thousands of confidential multifamily employee satisfaction surveys completed in 2020 reveal an alarming trend: many team members are not satisfied with the opportunities for growth, development, and advancement within their current companies. Specifically: According to the 2020 Swift Bunny Index, 15% of multifamily employees say they do not have a clear understanding of their career or promotion path, and 17% are unsure if they do or not. Combined, that means more than a quarter of multifamily employees are fuzzy on what their future holds with their current employers. For multifamily leaders who are trying hard to keep their employee turnover to a minimum, this poses a huge risk. When team members don’t know what’s next for them, they’re less invested in their future. According to the 2020 Swift Bunny Index, 16% of multifamily employees say they are not notified of all advancement opportunities within their company, and 25% are unsure whether they are notified or not. Combined, more than 4 out of 10 multifamily employees are missing the memo on promotion opportunities at their current employer. No doubt many are disheartened when they see others promoted, and frustrated when recruits are brought in from outside the company. “Why wasn’t I given the opportunity to apply for that job?” they may be thinking, while their engagement takes a nose-dive. What’s a multifamily supervisor to do? First, make it a habit to talk about your team members’ aspirations in your conversations. This is a great topic for your recurring one-on-one meetings. Don’t be concerned that by......
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Yearning for a More Positive and Productive Multifamily Workplace? Try These 3 Communication Strategies

Yearning for a More Positive and Productive Multifamily Workplace? Try These 3 Communication Strategies
Good communication is the hallmark of a respectful and productive workplace. It can also be frustratingly hard to accomplish. Multifamily supervisors are reporting higher than normal levels of incivility in the workplace these days—not surprising, when you consider how stressed out and uncivilized the world at large is today. Here are three strategies for leaders to consider in order to strengthen their workplace relationships. Stop Talking and Start Listening As a multifamily supervisor, you likely have to do a lot of talking. Your team members need direction and guidance, and decisions must be made. However, be careful of dominating workplace conversations to the extent that employees’ perspectives aren’t being heard. To be an effective leader, strive to listen at least as much as you speak. Here are some ways to get your associates talking. Allow team members other than yourself to lead the weekly staff meetings; consider setting up a rotation so everyone who is interested gets a chance to lead. When someone raises a question in a meeting, invite others to weigh in before you. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with everyone you supervise to encourage open communication. Make a point to connect with everyone you lead on a daily basis, even if it’s only for a quick conversation, email, or text exchange. Conduct frequent, confidential surveys so employees can offer candid feedback without fear of reprisal or judgment. And importantly, empower employees to speak up regularly by acting on the concerns they share. Only then will your team members see the val......
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Reopening Multifamily: Lead with Compassion when Returning to Work

Multifamily workplaces around the country are wrestling with the challenges of reopening their offices. According to research by SHRM, 50% of employers plan to return to the workplace by July 15, and 39% will implement a phased return to work strategy. As multifamily housing operators make their return to work plans, leaders should adopt a people-first mentality and demonstrate compassion for the concerns of their associates. Here are just some of the issues that team members may be worried about:   Some may be recovering from COVID or have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk Some may live with someone considered high-risk for infection Many act as caregivers and may be wrestling with extended closures of schools, camps, daycares, and adult care facilities Some may rely on public transportation to commute to and from work and fear that option is unsafe or may have limited operating hours According to Fortune, more than 1/3 of office-going adults are most concerned that “others in the office will behave in a way that puts me in danger” Many may be experiencing anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress syndrome. According to Harvard Business Review, “Many have suffered profound losses during the pandemic and have not had sufficient opportunity to grieve.” Resolving the numerous practical challenges of reopening—such as securing adequate supplies of PPE, disinfecting workspaces and amenity areas, and reconfiguring office layouts to accommodate social distancing—while challenging indeed, may be the easiest part about returning to work. Addressing the fears and concerns of team memb......
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Your Employees are Struggling. Throw Them a Lifeline

For the past six weeks, more than 2,900 employees have responded to the Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey. Recently, their responses have begun to take on a desperate tone. For many, what started out as, “we can do this!” has devolved into “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this.” Here are some painfully candid comments team members have shared: “I’m thankful that I still have a job and that I’m still needed at the office. But I’m stressed. I’m tired. I go home and I’m useless until it’s time to go to bed. Then, I don’t sleep because I think of everything that I still need to get done.” “With all of the residents home every hour of every day, the amount of complaints has been mind-boggling. I go home every day now completely and utterly exhausted and worn out.” “Too many directives and deadlines given on short notice. We are expected to work around the clock answering emails and texts at all hours. The virus is stressful enough. Leadership has made it ten times worse.”  “I’m worried about my maintenance team. I don’t know how they are still standing at the end of the day.” “STRESSED is the understatement of the year. We are all carrying this stress differently. I wish that our managers would be more understanding that no matter what job you have, you can be just as stressed as the boss.” Multifamily leaders, your associates are drowning in stress and worry. It’s time to throw your team members a lifeline before ......
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