For 2023, April 19th is apartment site teams appreciation day. (It’s a real thing if you didn’t know)
And many corporate property managers showed their appreciation to their hardworking apartment site teams by hosting zoom events, offside outings, pizza parties, gift cards and baskets, and even special shoutout videos etc.
These are all great ways to show appreciation for your front line workers who bear the brunt of unreasonable resident expectations, complaints, and all the unbelievable sh*%, I mean stress, that comes from working at someone’s home.
But the thing is, gift cards don’t cut it. What site teams need isn’t a free lunch. It isn’t a fun offside event. It isn’t platitudes. It isn’t a fancy corporate video filled with thanks from the CEO, VPs, and regionals.
What site teams need is autonomy. Decision making power. Less on their plate. Less systems to log into. And ultimately, corporate teams that actually listen to them rather than dumping more and more things on them each day.
Average employee turnover across all industries is 15.1%. Turnover in property management is 32%. So double the average across all industries. Clearly there is something wrong in property management if almost 1/3 of your staff leaves each year.
So how can corporate property management teams fix this?
Easy: provide things site teams actually want and make life easier for them.
Here are some key ways to show real appreciation to your site teams that go beyond free lunches or gift baskets:
1. Give them real autonomy and decision making power
Site teams are on the front lines, see everything going on, and are best positioned to make certain decisions. They shouldn’t have to run everything by corporate or the owner. Companies like Disney learned the power of employee autonomy long ago.
2. Protect them from unreasonable residents
Working out of your customer’s homes turns some customers into the worst version of themselves. Make sure you have policies guiding resident expectations and nullify leases if residents aren’t willing to meet these expectations. Your site teams shouldn’t have to suffer abuse from residents. Many companies like Southwest airlines, American Airlines and Target are disciplining their customers to protect employees.
3. Provide them the best tools
Professional athletes are provided the best equipment to help them compete. Many apartment site teams are forced to use antiquated technology that require 10+ clicks to do one thing. Or worst, no tools at all. If your site teams are managing amenities or other repetitive tasks like move-ins manually, you aren’t showing appreciation.
4. Provide them less tools
Worst than old tools is too many tools when site teams are forced to login to 10s of systems each day. If the quote “I have no more passwords in me has ever applied to anyone, it’s to property managers.” Adopt more integrated systems or all-in-one systems like Flamingo’s One App Resident Journey.
5. Stop piling on work and remove responsibilities
Property operations, rent collection, maintenance, tours, leasing, move-ins, review monitoring, resident events, social media, vendor management. invoicing etc. More and more is being dumbed on site teams each year. Be strategic about which new initiatives you add to their plate. Spend time with your teams and think through what could be taken off their plate. What could be automated? What doesn’t make sense to do anymore? Are you teams managing amenities manually? Get an amenity reservation system like Flamingo. Are your teams constantly being interrupted by residents asking the same questions over and over again? Implement a searchable digital resident guide.
6. Make staff experience as important as resident experience
As Richard Branson said, “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business”. A quick test to know if you’re as committed to staff experience as you are to resident experience is to ask yourself how often you conduct staff experience surveys.
7. Provide mental health resources
Working onsite is hard and mentally draining. Seeing a resident write a negative review that specifically calls you out by name will drive anyone into a dark place. Many site teams experience this day to day. So provide professional resources and training to help them deal with the challenges of being a front line worker in a heavy customer facing role.
8. Remind them of and celebrate wins
It is really easy to freak out about the one negative Google review and miss the 100s of other great experiences that your site teams are creating each and every day. From the maintenance technician completing a resident’s emergency in record time to the leasing associate who on top of touring residents and managing move-ins, has also just put together the perfect resident event and summer pool party.