In the face of more compliance risks in 2019 and 2020, it's imperative that companies combine training on what their employees and supervisors can't do, with what they can.
Keeping your compliance training current can be a struggle. With states and localities passing new laws on sexual harassment and fair housing every few months, it’s no wonder that property managers often overlook some of the most important lessons they can pass on to employees.
It’s an understandable predicament. Property management companies are already struggling to squeeze training time into the busy schedules of their employees. And it’s no longer sufficient to focus only on federal housing and employment rules.
States and local governments are stepping in with their own legislation on issues like sexual harassment, fair housing, rent control and marijuana, creating an increasingly fragmented regulatory landscape that only complicates the learning process for those working in the property sector. In the past year for instance, three states — New York, Connecticut and Illinois, have passed significant new sexual harassment legislation that reduces the threshold for illegal behavior and increases employer liability.
In this context, executives are well-advised to hew to more restrictive procedures to offset any potential for mistakes in record-keeping and interactions with residents. That’s especially true given other trends.
We surveyed property management executives and found an increase in “drive-by” litigation on minor issues, as well as residents aggressively researching to see what improvements or remedies they may be entitled to.
This helps explain the increase in trainers and training budgets across the sector, as noted in our recent benchmarking report. Large companies are expecting to increase training spending by 57 percent on average, compared to 30 percent for mid-size companies.
The challenge facing executives and compliance officers is making sure their company’s learning management system can keep up with all these changes, while also addressing the demand from employees to improve their abilities in other areas.
Companies must supplement compliance training with training on soft skills, such as collaboration, conflict resolution and flexibility — all of which can help build trust and disarm potentially contentious situations. This means ensuring training is tied to their other talent performance programs, like their company policies. Every court looks at not just a property management company’s training record, but also their policies to make sure they were clear in what they did, or did not, want their team to do.
It’s also important to understand what employees need to thrive, and to adapt training programs accordingly. There’s strong evidence that this is already happening at many property management companies.
The research found that “giving employees the skills to thrive” has replaced “easy implementation” for the top training goal among employers. At 54 percent of responses, “skills to thrive” was well ahead of “reduce compliance, legal, and operational risk,” at 39 percent, on the priority list.
The LinkedIn report confirmed what many managers already know: Employees will stick around when they are given the tools to thrive, which begins with effective training tied to a clear pathway to career advancement.
Companies that figure out how to combine compliance training with learning focused on personal growth are more likely to engage employees in the process, and bring a shared sense of value to the process. Their also more likely to slow turnover, a perpetual challenge for property managers.
The vast majority of property owners are turning to software solutions for their training, with 80 percent of property managers saying they are now using learning management systems. However, less than half are creating custom content for their companies.
It’s important to have agile training solutions updated to reflect in the places where you operate, but that’s not enough. Property managers need technology that caters to their employees’ aspirations as well.