Companies exploring learning management systems (LMS) find Grace Hill to be a comprehensive solution that helps them expand their learning objectives for employees across their workforce.
By adding Grace Hill’s PolicyPartner, which provides a library of customizable policies and procedures, and Validate, its mystery shopping component, to a traditional online learning mix, customers experience more consistent and comprehensive results from staff who are more engaged and motivated to learn.
These platforms serve as excellent complements to Grace Hill’s Vision platform, which provides enhanced professional development.
Rose Associates, Inc. and Drucker + Falk serve as two examples. Each had been steady Grace Hill customers, but when the pandemic disrupted traditional learning, they began to rely more on Grace Hill as their foundation for training.
Courses Used for More Than Just Compliance
Aysha Leak-Saunders, Director, Training & Development, Rose Associates, says Grace Hill’s programs are user-friendly and, while executed through their Rose Learning Center, have become a key part of the onboarding process for all associates. The New York City-based management company operates 18,000 apartment homes.
Leak-Saunders has been a Grace Hill customer for more than 12 years, having used the platform previously at Roseland Residential Trust, before moving to Rose Associates in February, inheriting Grace Hill in her new company.
“Grace Hill’s courses are more than just for compliance; they are used for the new employee walk-through when we welcome them, and they can be customized based on the employee’s position,” she says. “They are not just for the onsite team, but for our accounting, finance, development teams, too.”
Additionally, Grace Hill’s content material is updated promptly based on operations and other trends occurring in the industry.
“We appreciate that Grace Hill continues to grow, develop, and evolve based on the changing business environment that companies are facing,” she says.
“We also like that the material for topics has been recreated into more bite-sized pieces of information, which makes it easier for the learner. We can record our own training sessions and upload them into the library for easy reference – and Grace Hill provides a handout for their courses, making it easier for the learners to review. They can pause, save, and go back to their course as they wish. This aids in developing time management.”
Leak-Saunders says that because of the pandemic and many more employees working from home, it’s helped the company maintain an ongoing line of communications with its staff, who rely more on video-conferencing as a learning environment.
Training Content That Maintains Employees’ Interest
In recent years, Drucker + Falk has prioritized creating a comprehensive employee training program. Its Multifamily Education and Recruitment Coordinator, Jay Schoonover, has headed its education for three years, having spent 20 years total at the company, which employs 1,000+ staff.
All of its onboarding is done digitally through Grace Hill, but as Schoonover notes, “we hadn’t had a comprehensive training and education structure in place for the prior 13 years. We did online training with Grace Hill, but the overall intent of our program just seemed to be missing something.”
That changed when the company created an internal committee of 15 employees to thoroughly review the learning management systems of four competing companies. The Drucker + Falk group found that Grace Hill provided the best overall fit, so it expanded its relationship with them to include PolicyPartner (policies and procedures) and Validate (apartment mystery shopping) to go with Vision.
Schoonover says that the committee scored Grace Hill high on the content’s value; it was up to date and interesting, which kept our associates interested and engaged.
“This made Grace Hill the right choice,” he said. “And it was a decision we made not primarily based on price.”
Drucker + Falk used teleconferencing for training prior to the pandemic, “but COVID-19 really forced us to ramp that up,” Schoonover says. “Because of how we were using Grace Hill for this, it made it easy to increase this format through Zoom. We moved our in-house webinars to Zoom, too.”
Courses on De-escalation and Back to Basics Most Helpful
Leak-Saunders said Grace Hill’s course on de-escalating conversations with residents proved vital during the pandemic and today.
“We’re seeing that there’s been a rise in tension and stress in our residents on things such as service response times and rising rents as we’re coming out of the pandemic,” she says. “Two years ago, these conversations would not have escalated so quickly. Our site team associates truly have become front-line workers. Grace Hill helped us train on how to handle those crucial conversations and to provide conflict resolution.”
During the New York City market’s rent recovery of the past year, Leak-Saunders says that the Grace Hill course “Increasing Leasing Tactics for a New Era” has been particularly valuable.
“When you work in such a high-demand market such as New York City, it can be easy to forget how to use the right engagement and listening skills,” she says. “These courses helped us learn how to better build rapport, let others vent, and not take things personally.”
Leak-Saunders says that at the onset of COVID-19, in the New York City market, occupancy levels quickly fell into the 60% range.
“This was a level we’d never seen before,” she says. “Even in NYC, there were concessions of three- or four-months’ rent – again, something we’d never seen before. The course helped us to ‘get back to the basics’ in leasing when it came to attracting new residents. It helped us to recover from those low occupancy levels, and we’re in much better shape today. It has saved our net effective rents.”
As the pandemic has begun to turn the corner, Rose Associates’ occupancy sits at more customary 97% to 98% levels.
Helping to Recognize Award-Winning Performance
Rose Associates also has taken advantage of Grace Hill’s awards-based platform to track employees’ participation in courses.
“It makes it easy for us to recognize and honor employees for things such as completing their onboarding or job coursework in a given amount of time,” she says.
Some awards Rose Associates present include the “Rookie Rock Star” for new employees who complete all of their training within six months, Leak-Saunders says.
And those who do well in the apartment Validate Mystery Shop program, such as scoring in the 90s, are recognized in the company’s quarterly “Circle of Excellence” category. They also receive a plaque and cash reward.
“Employee results are used to create a leaderboard, which creates healthy competition among our staff,” she says.
Schoonover says that Drucker + Falk currently is surveying its employees to determine their training needs. “We’ll put that into action next year through Grace Hill,” he said.
Schoonover also praised Grace Hill’s tech support. “They listen and respond to our requests and ideas quickly,” he said. “We have monthly check-in calls with our service provider representative to make sure we’re on the right track.”
Leak-Saunders says that Grace Hill is a wealth of knowledge even outside its course library. “We can reach out to them to solve unique problems we might be facing, making this truly a partnership and not just us being their customer,” she says.