Why are Rental Housing Employees Quitting? Many Say the Unreasonable Workload

employee engagement risk unreasonable workload

Note: This is one in a five-article series spotlighting the five top risks to employee engagement and retention cited in Swift Bunny’s 2023 Employee Engagement Risk Report. Employee turnover is a persistent top challenge for rental housing operators, and the labor shortage has made staffing even more difficult than usual. A focus on driving down employee turnover and driving up employee engagement, tenure, and loyalty will help apartment leaders keep their communities and companies fully staffed and high performing.

workload frustration employee engagementThe past few years have been particularly stressful for rental housing employees. While pandemic-related challenges are now greatly alleviated, a new stressor looms large: short staffing. Multifamily team members are finding it increasingly difficult to carry the heavy load of responsibilities their work brings, thanks in part to there simply not being enough team members. Unreasonable workload is, for the second year in a row, among the top risks to employee satisfaction and retention in Swift Bunny’s 2023 Employee Engagement Risk Report.

Here are some of the specific frustrations expressed by employees in confidential surveys last year:

  • Many say they simply can’t get their work done in the time allowed, causing them to work extra hours and/or fall behind. Regional Managers and On-Site Managers are especially impacted.
  • About 1 in 4 survey respondents say their work suffers because they lack the needed resources, tools, technology, or support.
  • Others say that policies and procedures are inconsistently enforced, leading to confusion and frustration among the team.

The staffing shortage is real, and is likely to remain a significant challenge to rental housing organizations for many months to come. But there are steps leaders can take to make workloads for their employees less burdensome.

Risks to Employee Engagement Workload

What can leaders do?

Swift Bunny’s findings show that Regional Managers and On-Site Managers are at particularly high risk of burnout due to their heavy workloads. Executive leaders should scrutinize the responsibilities these teams carry and search for areas to lighten their load. One possible opportunity: reduce required audits and reports, which can take these people leaders away from their higher priority of serving their teams and communities. Says one survey respondent, “I cannot stress (enough) how much I get behind in my work due to time that is taken on (company) calls and other reports and audits.” Make it possible for Regional Managers and On-Site Managers to spend less time on busy work, and more time on “people work.”

Next, find out what specifically your team members need in order to be successful. Consider asking associates, “What’s getting in the way of your ability to get your job done?” It could be they need more reliable Internet; a new tool or piece of equipment; or maybe they need the authority to act without asking for—and waiting for—approval from a supervisor. Do what you can to provide the tools and support they need and cut away any red tape that’s holding them back.

Last, policies and procedures are meant to streamline work and make decision-making easier for all. But that only works when they’re applied universally. It may be time to review your policies and procedures and say goodbye to those that are outdated or unnecessary. Consider inviting a committee of team members from all parts of the company to participate in this process, so that all voices are represented. Once the project is complete, socialize and embrace more closely the policies and procedures that are still a good fit. Consistent enforcement will minimize confusion and safeguard morale, as Swift Bunny survey responses show that team members care deeply about fair treatment.

Learn more about the other risks to employee engagement that we have identified as driving dissatisfaction and turnover, including communication, compensation, professional development, and onboarding, and get your copy of the 2023 Employee Engagement Risk Report for our complete findings.


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The Hidden Costs of Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is a significant concern for businesses of all sizes and industries, but we know it is particularly distressing for the rental housing industry.