The high turnover rate of property management staff in multifamily housing has long plagued the industry. As of 2019, the overall average employee turnover rate was nearly 33 percent, according to the National Apartment Association.
In addition to contributing to company instability and wasting valuable time, that turnover rate is also costly: The average cost to replace a salaried employee is six to nine months of the employee’s salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
At a time when stability is sorely needed, what can property management professionals do to keep good staff on board?
Two key steps can help staff stay, Dru Armstrong, CEO of multifamily talent performance solutions company Grace Hill, recently wrote in Propmodo. Namely, providing staff with better training and professional development opportunities, and recognizing their efforts, can help them want to stay on with a company.
“Both experienced property managers as well as newcomers who are still deciding their career paths repeatedly say they would be more likely to remain in their jobs if they only received better training and professional development,” Armstrong said.
In 2020, small organizations were most successful at offering professional development for employees in order to help offset turnover rates: 70 percent of small organizations offered this to employees, 64 percent of medium organizations did so, and 58 percent of large organizations made these offerings available, according to Grace Hill’s 2020 Multifamily Benchmark Report.
Unfortunately, a primary obstacle to offering good training has often been ample time available, both for those on the giving and receiving end of training.
“This year, more than half of the property managers said there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to receive the training and professional development they need,” Armstrong said. “Making time is difficult, to say the least.”
The pandemic has made everyday life much more challenging, but one small perk through it all is that there have never been more ways to conduct business remotely. As Armstrong argues, property management companies should take advantage of the moment by ramping up online trainings that can be completed anytime, anywhere, while still providing employees with the valuable information they desire.
“Why can’t they receive this training online, thus avoiding a potentially unsafe gathering and still receiving needed information to answer their questions and provide guidance on how they can safely perform their jobs?” Armstrong asked.
Furthermore, companies need to make their professional development offerings well-known to employees. According to Grace Hill’s survey, six in 10 companies do not require their property managers have credentials, but those companies will pay for managers to pursue credentials if they so desire. Meanwhile, less than 25 percent of properties managers are aware their companies will provide this benefit.
On the recognition side, providing employees with some affirmation that their efforts have been seen and appreciated ensures top talent knows they are valued and encourages them to keep up the good work. Providing both good training and positive reinforcement actually works as a bit of a “feedback loop,” Armstrong says, for encouraging employees in the long run.
“Almost sixty percent of property management employees we surveyed told us that employee recognition was a key tool to improving retention,” Armstrong said. “Working hard amid a pandemic, facing unprecedented dangers and legal questions, it seems reasonable that many property managers would appreciate acknowledgement and other rewards for following procedures.”
“Training and professional development provide companies with metrics for employee recognition,” Armstrong added. “Not only can employees receive kudos and other benefits from completing their training, but they can also be rewarded and showcased as top professionals in their companies. It’s a fabulous means of communicating your company’s vision and creating a feedback loop for employee satisfaction.”