Is Your Technology Benefiting Your Team or Burdening Your Workers?

Last modified on January 7th, 2016

Staying connected is vital today. Utilizing your property management software tools saves time, money and frustration for your owners, and facilitates effective communication between tenants and maintenance staff. Streamlining your operation reduces overhead expense and duplication.

But, there are some negative side effects of implementing technology-rich solutions. Namely, the challenges associated with an always-connected, always on-call burden for employees.

First, let’s look at the benefits technology brings to your property.

  • Residents have access to a 24-hour portal to submit routine and urgent repair requests
  • Owners can watch the process from initial call through resolution
  • Fewer man-hours are spent on the telephone communicating when electronic messaging is appropriate
  • Less room for miscommunication and duplication
  • Potential for higher profit margins with reduced expenses

Now the downside . . .

  • Being on twenty-four hour call reduces alertness
  • Fatigue may create safety issues
  • Lack of sleep inhibits sound decision-making skills and cognitive reasoning
  • Large call volume can increase physical fatigue, especially when employees must work a regular shift after responding to night-time calls

Conclusion: Extended work hours may significantly reduce performance, safety and efficiency.

What Can You Do to Balance Employee Needs and Company Goals?

A 2012 Snap Survey reveals that employee burnout is a major contributor to low employee morale. Some signs that an employee is unhappy with his or her job mimic symptoms frequently seen when employees work after hours taking emergency calls. These include:

  • Poor communication
  • Complaints and poor attitude
  • Increased conflict with peers
  • Poor performance and work quality
  • Increased customer complaints

Let’s say you’ve gifted your on-call team with personal iPad’s. First, you’re a very considerate boss, and we applaud your generosity! Now, back to the topic at hand.

You can avoid employee burnout by implementing a company policy that serves your tenants, owners and maintenance team by developing a strategy for your team that will give tenants the exceptional service they expect and support your staff by using your tech tools without overloading your team. Here’s how.

  1. Train your team. This means they understand how to respond to work orders and identify which requests require immediate attention, as well as those that will wait until normal work hours.
  2. Provide adequate compensation – either extra pay or time off – for extra duty.
  3. Educate residents and owners about response times for both emergency and routine requests.
  4. Provide ample opportunities for shift adjustment when necessary. This might include coming in a few hours late for a shift or alternating day-time and after-hours shifts.
  5. Whenever possible, give employees two consecutive days off each week rather than splitting days off. This allows employees to rejuvenate and rest more thoroughly following after-hours duty.
  6. Establish non-connected periods. Giving your employees permission to turn off devices allows them to get away from work on a regular basis to enjoy time with family and friends or just to enjoy private time not listening for the alert.
  7. Review your vacation policy. Small companies may benefit from splitting the annual vacation into two separate periods. Twelve months is a long time between holidays, if your employee is working a full-time shift and assuming emergency coverage duties, too.
  8. Communicate regularly with employees. Monthly or quarterly meetings to check your employees’ health and morale status will help you spot negative side effects early. Make it a habit to ask how your team is feeling. Solicit feedback about your policies and make sure your team knows they can tell you if they are experiencing any health challenges or safety issues related to after-hours response activities.

Your property management software and tech tools provide so many valuable resources to support your maintenance team. Make sure you use them wisely and your staff and customers will reap the rewards. Need help developing a property plan? Give your AppFolio rep a call today.

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