It’s time for the property management industry to take a serious look at the issue of employee retention.  

At 33%, the employee turnover rate for property management staff is significantly higher than other industries, where the national average is only 25%. This is a serious problem, as the cost of employee turnover is high, at approximately 20% of a midrange employee’s annual salary. That means it could cost your business $8,000 or more to replace an individual making $40k.

Keeping employees engaged isn’t easy, and turnover is increasing in all industries. However, by offering your team opportunities to grow their careers, you can keep your best employees longer.

Today’s employees value career development opportunities. A LinkedIn survey of 7,523 members revealed that not having a clear path for advancement is the number one reason employees leave one job for another.

But by focusing on career development possibilities, giving employees opportunities to learn new skills, and supporting them during the onboarding process, your property management company stands a far better chance of keeping talent.

The Next Generation of Property Management Talent

The average age of a property manager is 50.1 years, which is seven years older than the average American worker at 43. This means a couple of things: there is longevity in property management, and with longevity comes experience of the industry and the business. But it also means that as older members of the workforce retire, property management companies will need to attract — and retain — the next generation of property managers.

Gen Z and Millennial applicants may not come with a lengthy resume, but they are digital natives who have grown up on technology. Typically, they will be able to master new digital workflows quickly, enabling them to provide a better experience for your residents, who expect to find information and customer service via modern, mobile tools. Though they may be inexperienced today, both Millennials and Generation Zers want to start a career path before they hit 30 (51% and 66% respectively).

To build a workforce of employees who are empowered to provide excellent customer service, you’ll need to start by providing all the tools, resources and support they need to succeed. Since they highly value the opportunity to learn new skills and grow into more senior management positions over time, you’ll need to create a company culture where they can advance their careers.

If you’re like other property managers facing this challenge, you may know that your business should make these changes to improve employee retention, but you aren’t sure how to get started. Based on recent research, here are three ways employers often fail their employees, and tips for overcoming these challenges before your top talent looks for opportunities elsewhere.

1. Map Out a Career Path

LinkedIn’s 2013 Global Recruiting Trends Survey showed a clear disconnect between how HR staff and employees perceived internal advancement opportunities. HR professionals thought employees knew about internal mobility, although only 25% of their workers actually knew about the career paths available within the organization.

To prevent this kind of disconnect, spend time during the onboarding process getting to know your new hires. Where do they want to be in three years, five years, ten years? Think about how you or other leaders within your organization made progress toward career goals, and help your employees see the next career milestone that they can achieve if they put in the work. Don’t wait to do this until their annual review — make career mapping part of the orientation.

Give each new employee a company chain of command chart that shows all roles within the organization from entry-level support workers to top management positions. Together, create a list of short-term goals that create a personal path toward the ultimate position desired.

2. Provide Resources for Growth

Make sure your company supports professional development goals. One way to do this is by creating an internal mentoring program. One third of Gen Z respondents to a recent survey identified mentorship as the number one job benefit on the must-have list.

In-house training programs that familiarize employees with on-site technology, property management software, departmental processes and role-specific duties are excellent tools to give staff confidence necessary to deliver superior customer service.

Another sign a company cares about career advancement is adding tuition reimbursement to the benefits package. Explain what skills or knowledge an employee will need to take the next step on their career path. Maybe it’s by taking classes, acquiring industry licenses or credentials, or attending professional development workshops. Consider budgeting some money to support them in reaching these goals. After all, career development costs money, but turnover is even more expensive.

3. Create a Culture That Brings Out Their Best

One important thing to understand about workers today is that they value experiences over possessions. According to a 2018 report by Expedia, more Americans of all ages are saving for travel, but Millennials are leading the charge at 65%. Offering your employees the opportunity to unplug from time to time also means they will arrive back on the job reenergized.

In addition to paid time off, Millennials and Gen Zers also look for roles where they may work from anywhere. These workers are eager to adopt digital tools such as mobile apps, automation, and communication tools that allow them to get work done away from the office. Modern property management software makes it easy for them to stay on top of communications from prospects, residents, and owners, to provide excellent experiences.

In addition to the tech tools your company offers, also review the company perks package. Here are a few considerations that will help improve employee retention:

  • Competitive salary
  • Flexibility to work from home or while traveling when necessary
  • Generous sick and paid time off policy.

Ultimately, employee retention is a problem that can be solved if your organization is willing to make a few important changes.

To avoid losing talent and incurring the high costs of employee turnover, you’ll need to create a culture that supports professional and personal growth. Encourage feedback. Provide excellent training and technology to make work more efficient. Ask your employees what will help them manage their workload better and reduce job-related stress.

By taking some time to figure out what your employees need and what changes the company can make to support their goals, your organization will also be more likely reach its own goals in the long run.