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6 ways to build loyalty and avoid staff turnover

Six tips to keep your team members happy and productive.
Nick Mertens

Nick Mertens
Vice president of property management, Atlas Real Estate Group, Denver

Property management is an industry built around outstanding customer service, so our team knows the importance of people. Maintaining good relationships with residents and tenants of all kinds is what keeps revenue flowing. But in order to keep our customers happy, property management team members must feel fulfilled in their jobs as well. Happy people deliver the best service, which, in turn, leads to loyal residents.

However, property management is a stressful and demanding industry, so it’s not always easy to keep your team members content. As managers, it’s our job to consistently check the pulse on our teams to make sure we retain our top talent. How do you build a rock-solid culture and gain more loyalty with employees? Following are six of our best tips.

1. Develop a company culture that gives back to your team. Building an enjoyable company culture is the key to any people-centric business. Most employees work to earn a paycheck. However, according to a 2016 survey by Glassdoor, 57 percent of respondents said that benefits and other company perks play a major role when deciding to pursue a particular job. For example, the popular start up Airbnb offers its employees an annual $2,000 stipend to travel wherever they’d like.

So, find ways to reward your employees for hard work and have fun. They’re likely spending over 40 hours a week in your office, and that’s a big commitment. It’s crucial that you make sure they feel valued and respected with their time.

2. Acknowledge good days. We all know managers who only acknowledges their employees when they do something wrong – don’t treat your team this way. Acknowledging your team’s successes goes a long way. When they deliver great customer service, tell them they did great work. It’s that simple.

Likewise, although it might be difficult at times, don’t focus on every little mistake. Remember that everyone has bad days, and put yourself in their shoes. They’re working a difficult job, and bad days are bound to happen. When small mistakes happen, give them a hall pass. Excellent team members will know when they made a mistake and won’t need to be told what they did wrong again.

3. Don’t fill their days with “fluff.” How many meetings have you been to that were of little to no value? Don’t fill up your team’s calendars with pointless meetings, appointments and other “fluff” that could be covered in another way. People feel disrespected when they are asked to attend a meeting that isn’t a valuable use of their time.

Take a look at your schedule and cancel any unnecessary meetings. If an in-person meeting can be reduced to a phone call, or a phone call can be reduced to an email, do it. Your employees don’t want to waste your time, so you should show them the same respect. After all, their time is your money.

4. Discover their personal goals. Everyone in a company has personal and professional goals they’d like to achieve, from the receptionist to the CEO. No matter the size of your team, try to spend time with each individual team member to understand her personal goals. This shows that you truly appreciate your employees and want to see each succeed.

Once you know their goals, craft ways that you can support them and acknowledge when they hit milestones. For example, if an employee wants to pay off $3,000 in debt over the next 12 months, show them that you’re invested in their goals by making a deal. Advise them that every month they pay down $200 toward this debt, you’ll chip in another $50. This small gesture of support will go a long way in terms of this employee’s morale.

5. Challenge your team members. Throughout my career in management, I’ve found that the majority of people I work with are capable of taking on more responsibility as they grow in their position. I like to challenge these people, and they often thrive because of it. Don’t just give meaningless tasks that you know your employees can do. Give them tasks that they could fail at, and embrace that failure as a normal part of the learning process. As they achieve new jobs, keep adding them until they have bigger responsibilities on their shoulders.

This will help them grow professionally. They’ll come to you with questions, but use this as an opportunity to teach, not tell. When they ask the question, “What should I do in this situation?” Respond by asking them, “I’m not sure, what do you think is the right way to tackle this?” After they have answered their own question, put them in charge of making it happen.

6. Provide company-sponsored events to relieve stress. When you achieve something great as a team, switch up your normal routine and reward your people for their hard work. Spice up a routine meeting by going to your team’s favorite lunch place. When you hit your leasing goals, give everyone $100 in cash, head to the shopping mall and require them to buy something for themselves.

Again, property management is a stressful industry, and you don’t want your team to hit a wall. So, every once in a while, make sure that you stop and double-check that no one is being overworked. If they are, offer to take something off their plate and give it to another team member to avoid burnout.

These six methods might take a little more time out of your day, but the return on investment you’ll get from your employees is huge. Remember, the more you invest in your team, the harder they’ll be willing to work for you.

Featured in the January 2018 issue of Property Management Quarterly.

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.