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Hiring and Retention: The New Battleground for Multifamily

Posted on January 6, 2022

Doug Pike

It’s being called the “Great Resignation.” Many members of the U.S. workforce who left their posts for various reasons during the pandemic have yet to resume employment, and employers are clinging tenuously to their current staff. 

While multifamily has weathered COVID-19 admirably, it hasn’t been immune to the recent talent shortages.

The 2021 Apartment Visionaries Survey Research Report, conducted by KingsleySurveys, in conjunction with LeaseLock, polled more than 300 multifamily owner/operators. Majority of respondents (53%) named hiring/talent retention as the biggest challenge they face entering 2022. A recent Grace Hill and LeaseLock webinar, Multifamily Top 3 Challenges: How to Navigate Them in 2022, explored the report findings, as well as solutions to the industry’s hiring and employee retention challenges. 

Moderated by LeaseLock Chief Revenue Officer Ed Wolff, the webinar emphasized the importance of viewing talent through a lens that accounts for the entire associate life cycle. 

“It’s a holistic approach to how we source, secure, grow and develop talent over time. It’s not just about hiring,” said Terresa Porizek, Managing Director of Talent Management and Property Management at Greystar. “It’s really important that organizations consider that holistic approach, following the talent life cycle. When organizations have a better handle on that, and they think, act and behave strategically and in a more people-centered way, it really gives them an opportunity to look at talent differently, both internally and externally.”

By establishing the framework to first hire the right candidates, then develop them along their career path through a learning management system (LMS), employers create an invaluable level of associate engagement which increases job satisfaction and employee retention. 

“When employees can see a road map that the company has established to invest in them, and then experience those investments, they feel so much more connected to an organization,” Porizek said. “Organizations that have a structured talent development program, or some type of development infrastructure, are more likely to retain employees. Foster engagement through culture, feedback and recognition to help employees feel connected to their organization and the people in their organization.”

Those personal connections are often the reason associates stay, Porizek noted. 

“People quit people, they don’t quit companies. That’s the bottom line,” Porizek said. “It’s really imperative that firms recognize how their influence on people really impacts their talent landscape.”

Of course, before associates can be compelled to stay, owner/operators first have to get them in the door. According to Jennifer Staciokas, Executive Managing Director of Property Management at Western Wealth Capital, multifamily needs to update its recruitment and hiring practices, as well as its compensation packages, if it hopes to compete for employees with other industries. 

Whether it’s discarding industry standards for staffing levels, enhancing benefits and benefit start dates, deploying flexible payroll distribution or a full reevaluation of compensation, Staciokas said the industry needs to adapt.

“We can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them because we’ll keep getting the same results,” said Staciokas. “When you say you’re going to put people first, it has to start from the very beginning. Your actions have to back up the words that you’re saying.”

Staciokas lives the people-first mantra. Her very first corporate hire was a director of recruiting. So, she’s discouraged when she hears companies struggling with staffing say they can’t find time to interview. 

“We have so many things that we’re juggling at our properties and as a company. The most important thing is having a fully staffed property, so your No. 1 priority has to be interviewing,” Staciokas said. “You have to put that first, and not just ‘checking the box’ with interviewing. Personalize that experience. If you show up unprepared and unorganized, that’s not the right message for the candidate. Don’t be too busy to interview properly.” 

Owner/operators also need to find time to check in with their current associates. Porizek suggests touching base with employees at key points in the associate life cycle through engagement surveys and continuous listening strategies. 

“Surveys give us an opportunity to hear from employees in a way we might not hear from them on a regular basis,” Porizek said. “But when you ask for feedback, people expect you to do something with it. It’s important that if organizations employ surveys as part of a culture strategy that they really do take note of what’s being said and take action in some of those critical areas.” 

By providing associates with a platform to have their voices not only heard, but used to shape the associate experience and mold company culture, owner/operators drive associate satisfaction and engagement. That level of engagement creates a more productive operational machine, with the ability to boost performance and NOI. 

“When organizations start to think about people as a system and a network, it becomes so much more powerful,” Porizek said.

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