The Secret to Solving the Notorious Employee Turnover Problem in Property Management

COVID-19 is exposing a shift in perspective around remote work as a sustainable alternative to the traditional in-office paradigm. And, as a thriving remote team here at Aptly, we challenge you to consider making that shift permanent. 

By supporting remote work, property managers can experience 25% less turnover and increased happiness, loyalty, and productivity by leaps and bounds. Your employees are more than likely already on board with the concept:

 

Multifamily employee turnover hovers at a whopping 40%. And while information on the single family side isn’t as cut and dry, it’s likely not too far behind. Compare it to the national average turnover rate of 18% and the need for creative solutions becomes evident and justified.

An Alternative Route to Employee Loyalty

The “lack of a defined career path” gets thrown around a lot when discussing property management turnover.

Job monotony in the wake of our new “experience economy” upends entry-level workers who value their time over their title. Where 40 hours a week in a required centralized location creates a disillusionment in workers who see their peers find happiness in gig work over steady work with all the (supposed) freedom in the world.

Throw in interfacing with angry tenants with demands that conflict with your owners. And angry owners with demands that conflict with your bottom line. You get a demanding and stressful environment your employees expect and accept until something better inevitably comes along.

You might not be able to solve the pervasive “lack of defined career path” argument. And though there are ways to improve tenant and owner happiness, your team will always be customer-facing. It can be emotionally exhausting if there is no true and frequent respite.

Related: Veritas reaps the benefits of a ‘Residents First’ approach that is the framework for its entire business

You can, however, give employees coveted time for experiences that make them subjectively happy. You can also easily provide that “true and frequent respite” to better mentally manage high-volume customer interactions. Consider this, 71% of remote workers are happy in their job compared to 55% of their in-office counterparts:

 

Giving your team more options that allow the company to adapt to the employee (as opposed to the employee adapting to the company) yields a happy and loyal team. Additionally, when you restrict yourself to a mandatory location and work hours, you are also restricting your talent pool for new hires and retention options for employees in need of flexibility.

Harnessing the Power of an Asynchronous Property Team

You’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable with some employees getting their best work done at times of the day when you’re asleep. Uncomfortable with some employees taking regular 2 hours lunch breaks so they can get in a good workout at the gym. Uncomfortable with some employees who are just downright unproductive for a few days and you have no clue if/when they’ll be back to their normal behavior.

I’m polishing up this article at 5:30 am, before my kids wake up and while drinking my first few cups of coffee. It’s my most productive and creative time of the day. Our engineers work into the late hours of the night making changes to Aptly at a time when our customers are the least likely to be interrupted with updates to the app.

We’re all generally available between 8 and 5 for customer needs but may take frequent breaks to reclaim time and go on a run. Or prep dinner. Or take our kids to the park. It’s a great way to recharge and reset. And while we all have our off days, it’s agreed that we’re generally more productive working autonomously than sandwiched between the same 8 hours of the day. The same days of the week. In the same location — week after week, after week, after week…

The majority of the remote work force agrees with my sentiment. 77% of remote workers report higher levels of productivity with 30% accomplishing more in less time and 24% accomplishing more in the same amount of time than in traditional in-office roles.

Personally, I don’t fit in those categories. I work longer hours, intentionally, in order to complete all of my work. I yield some of my work time to life and some of my life time to work, depending on the balance I need to strike that day. And 23% of the remote workers do the same.

A Practical Approach at Remote Work for Property Teams

  1. Define what success looks like before anything else. Fewer sick days? Increased productivity? An obvious potential for long-term cost savings?
  2. Go all in. Encourage your employees to work autonomously, within reason. If they feel more productive at 9pm instead of 9am, so be it. As long as customers get the same responsiveness during business hours and the work they needed to get done gets done, allow your employee to work in a long lunch and mid-day kid pick up.
  3. Measure success (or lackthereof) Use Aptly to track work management and customer communication getting a benchmark in productivity for remote days vs non-remote days. Establish an employee survey asking about feelings of happiness and loyalty. Use it before you implement a remote option and measure after you’ve let it marinate for a few months.

Related: 7 Digital Tools to Manage Remote Property Teams

And if you’re *ahem* using Aptly, the first PMS-integrated task management inbox, then you’re already a step ahead of the rest. Track employee responsiveness to customers, monitor personal inboxes, and get a pulse on completed and outstanding work with task boards. Task boards like the inspection management board (integrated with data from your PMS) below:

 

Aptly integrates your inbox with PMS data and task management tools creating a single place to manage all work.

I’m writing this at a time when many property management companies are working as socially distant and distributed teams, at least temporarily. 

Consider this a dry-run. Keep in mind you went into the pandemic with no planed infrastructure or strategy to harness the power (yes, power) of asynchronous communication and productivity. This dynamic goes hand in hand with distributed teams. Its effectiveness,however, can elude those who are bound to a central office and traditional, stagnant work hours. 

Not using Aptly?

Aptly is a task management tool specifically designed for property teams. We integrate task boards with your inbox, phone, and property management software (PMS) giving teams a single place to collaborate and manage all work.

Contact us to get a free trial of Aptly and learn more about the future of work for property teams.

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