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Why and How to Boost Multifamily Residential Staffing Retention

Posted by Joseph Curd on Nov 17, 2022

Many industries have encountered a shortage of workers including the multifamily residential industry. Part of it is due to the pandemic changing how people work. More people want to work remotely. Then, there’s quiet quitting in which people just do their eight hours, nothing more.

Unlike other industries, on-site employees deal with managing team culture and a residential community. Team culture and the resident’s experience affect how staff members feel about their jobs. Is the experience one where everyone feels welcome? Or is it one where everyone keeps to themselves?

It’s very possible to create a staffing retention strategy that will compel employees to stay longer. According to the Institute of Real Estate Management, turnover in the multifamily residential industry is at 33%. This is higher than the national average of 22%. As many of you are painfully aware, property level turnover can regularly hit 50%, and this is an area where retention strategies hold high dividends.

The ideal turnover rate is around 10%. Attrition rates over 25% are considered a problem. Why is multifamily residential staffing turnover higher than the national average?

Why Is Multifamily Residential Staff Turnover High?

What multifamily residential roles are experiencing higher turnover? It’s actually a variety of jobs including property managers, maintenance, and leasing.

One of the biggest factors is the number of people retiring. Many of the people working in multifamily residential are from the baby boomer generation. They’re retiring in droves. Yet, no one is replacing them because fewer college graduates are entering the industry.

Why Multifamily Residential Needs to Focus on Staffing Retention

According to Multifamily Insiders, employee turnover affects resident turnover. The data shows that 10% of employee turnover leads to 3% of resident turnover. With multifamily residential employee turnover at 33%, we can assume resident turnover is negatively impacted by 10%.

Why are employee and resident turnover connected? The first reason is easy. When a multifamily residential community experiences high employee turnover, the remaining employees shift to reactive mode. They’re in a “putting out the fires” situation. This leads to burnout and affects their demeanor. In doing so, they may neglect the things that keep residents happy.

With a high turnover comes a staff full of new employees. Even if they have high qualifications, there’s always an adjustment period. Every company has its own culture and processes. Residents won’t know the staff well. This affects resident service.

Think about a gym, somewhere you have a membership, or even a doctor’s office. Isn’t there something comforting when you know everyone who works there versus a place where you don’t know the staff? Familiarity makes people feel connected and part of the community.

Multifamily residential properties have a significant responsibility when providing homes for residents. Being disconnected from the staff can turn bad resident experiences into uncomfortable situations to resolve.

6 Ways to Boost Multifamily Residential Staffing Retention

You can proactively reduce multifamily residential staffing turnover and the associated costs by doing these six things.

1. Create a great onboarding experience

Before the employee starts their first day, you want to ensure things are ready for them. Therefore, you need to have a pre-boarding process. This could be as simple as sending them paperwork ahead of time or having the team do something to make them feel welcome.

Typical onboarding processes involve reviewing benefits, receiving training on sexual harassment, security, and other topics, and getting basic information about the company such as dress code, parking, and other things to know.

Onboarding isn’t something that occurs in the first week. The most effective programs tend to run for at least 90 days. Employees need orientation on the company culture. They need a good overview of their roles, responsibilities, and opportunities for advancement. Most importantly, encourage them to ask questions and provide feedback.

Last, but certainly not least:  Document roles, responsibilities, and standard operating procedures so your new teammates have the reference materials to self-educate.

2. Show appreciation

A simple thank you can go a long way. Of course, you don’t want to thank employees for every little thing. You also want to avoid going too long between showing appreciation. You want to keep the momentum and that’s where appreciation comes in.

Remember, working at a multifamily residential property can sometimes be a thankless job. Resident complaints and maintenance problems happen. There are creative ways to make employees feel valued. You can host offsite employee events, provide bonuses, and give them credit when they’ve earned it.

3. Help them grow in their roles

Recall the onboard experience mentions educating new employees on opportunities for advancement. Be sure to follow through on that. Send them to training during company time. Pair them with a mentor.

There’s a difference between a job and a career. A job is something you have to pay the bills. A career is a person’s professional journey. Companies help them by providing multiple career paths and opportunities for professional development. Take care when you hire externally. It can have an impact on current employees who might’ve wanted that role as a way to grow.

4. Make training and professional development a priority

Employees can’t grow if they don’t have access to training and professional development opportunities. A company that expects them to do that outside of working hours on their own dime could lose those employees.

Yes, training and professional development have a price. However, it’s an investment in your employees. They stay longer when their company helps them learn and grow. In turn, you avoid the costs of turnover and having to find a replacement. The onboarding process is their first training encounter. It needs to be well-developed. There are consultants who can help you ensure your onboard process and training are effective.

Mentoring is another valuable tool. Pair newer employees with experienced employees and leaders. The program can be more powerful if your company creates a mentoring program with guidelines. Consider having monthly training sessions where senior employees educate others on a specific topic.

Even if you don’t have an internal training department, you can offer stipends for external courses. Make a list of recommended courses to help them find the right ones. Also, encourage employees to propose other courses they’d like to take. Allow them to take the training during working hours. It wouldn’t be all day, every day. This can be an agreement between the employee and their direct report.

5. Take steps to prevent burnout

One of the biggest reasons people leave the multifamily industry is stress and burnout. Maybe their workloads aren’t realistic. Either hire more employees or do a review of their workload. It’s better to remove some of the load than to lose them altogether.

Many multifamily operators have revisited staffing hours in the post-Covid work era, finding that leasing and maintenance needs have shifted with more prospecting using virtual tours and phone calls to guide their shopping journey.  With careful evaluation of leasing and service transactions, you may find that there are one or more slow days at a given property each week, or on certain weekends (usually in the middle of the month).  Leverage these slower days to reduce overtime, offer more weekend time off, or use shortened workdays to provide more work-life balance.

Since you’re investing in professional development and hosting monthly training, consider offering training on stress management and time management. Do what you can to support them in setting boundaries between work and personal lives. Avoid calling or emailing them outside of work hours.

Things happen after hours because your most important clients live in your multifamily residential property. Ensure these after-hours interruptions don’t become the norm for employees by having an afterhours safety and security escalation solution.

6. Encourage feedback

People may be afraid to speak up because they fear something will come back to bite them. Find a way to set up a feedback process that can be completely anonymous. Maybe they don’t like the incentives your company is doing to show appreciation. Wouldn’t it be better to know this and change the incentives than to keep wasting money on something no one wants?

If you make a change because of employee feedback, let them know. When they learn that an employee’s feedback makes a difference, then they will be more compelled to share their thoughts.

In implementing these six ways to improve multifamily residential staffing retention, you’ll be rewarded with a higher net operating income (NOI), happier residents and employees, a positive reputation, and retained company knowledge. There’s a link between high turnover and resident turnover. Doing these things can reduce resident move-outs.

Investing in Your Multifamily Residential Staff Retention Strategy

The message is clear that the multifamily industry needs to do what it can to keep its staff happy. It should not be an either-or proposition when seeking to keep residents or employees happy. They’re tied together. If multifamily operators want to hold on to employees, they need to provide staff with support, tools, and resources.

A good way to illustrate that you care about your staff and residents is to invest in video surveillance with live remote monitoring. It’s an affordable solution that adds multiple layers to your property’s security to assure everyone they are safe. Many multifamily residential companies see an ROI within four months.

Security cameras can do more than protect everyone in the building. They can help you find productivity improvement opportunities. A multifamily residential building has a lot happening. Work with a security company like Stealth Monitoring that installs and monitors the camera. They can help you spot bottlenecks.

Every industry has unique security requirements including the multifamily industry. To find the right partner, contact video security companies that have multifamily residential property experience. Add Stealth Monitoring to this list.

In working with our security team, you’ll receive a customized security plan for your multifamily residential property. They’ll design and implement a security system that meets your requirements and budget. In looking for a remote video surveillance system that meets your needs, refer to this video surveillance checklist. To learn more, download your free Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building.