The Secret Formula to Employee Engagement

Building a Multifamily Company Culture of Exceptional Performance, High Job Satisfaction, and Low Employee Turnover

The terms employee engagement and workplace culture get thrown around a lot, and there’s some confusion about what they both mean. They’re often used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. They don’t. Here’s the difference.

Workplace culture is how your workplace operates, including your policies, procedures, and practices.
Employee engagement is how your associates feel about that.

Gallup defines engagement as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” When employees are engaged, they are highly satisfied, high performing, and at significantly reduced risk of quitting for another opportunity. Sounds like an ideal workforce, right? But how can multifamily companies achieve that? Creating an engaged workforce starts with building and maintaining an appealing workplace culture.

The Challenge: A Strong Economy Means Workers Have Options

Company Culture

Today’s economy is working hard for workers. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate as of September 2018 is at a 50-year low. Our economy is humming along at what’s considered full employment – essentially, every person who wants a job has a job. And, there are a record number of job openings; more than one opening for every unemployed person, in fact. That is positive news for employees, but it creates substantial challenges for employers and supervisors.

Multifamily leaders report that it’s harder than ever to find new-hires. With so many jobs available and so few job candidates, it’s extremely difficult for employers to fill vacant positions.

Multifamily’s high rate of employee turnover makes staffing an even greater challenge for apartment industry employers. With so many jobs available and so few people to fill them, team members are in the driver’s seat. If they’re not completely happy with their current level of pay, responsibilities, or the workplace conditions, today’s multifamily associates know that other opportunities are easy to find.

To make matters even more grim for supervisors, job satisfaction remains dismally low in all U.S. workplaces. According to Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace report, only about 3 out 10 workers report that they are engaged. Nearly 70% of employees are less than enthused about work. Their disenchantment levels range from “don’t ask me, I just work here,” to “I hate this place.” Half of all workers confess that they are actively looking for another job.

The Solution: Focus on Culture to Boost Engagement with These 5 Key Factors of a Winning Culture

To achieve engagement, multifamily leaders must focus on the policies, procedures, and practices that matter to their associates. Here are five key factors to consider in building a workplace culture that works for your multifamily team members.

We’ve even got a shareable infographic you can send to your leadership and coworkers to bring them back here for more details!


Satisfaction at work1: Satisfaction with Work

There are numerous contributors to job satisfaction, including pay and benefits. But even when the compensation package is generous, associates are unlikely to feel a sense of accomplishment if they don’t see how their own efforts contribute to the big picture – or worse yet, when they don’t even know what the big picture is.

Multifamily leaders should clearly articulate the organization’s purpose and goals and help their team members see how their own efforts relate to the overall business outcomes. When leasing consultants, maintenance supervisors, and marketing directors alike can connect the dots between the choices they make at work and the property management company’s performance, work becomes more meaningful and satisfying for every individual contributor, and employee engagement levels rise.

Do your associates understand the role they play in the company’s goals and performance? Are their individual contributions monitored, measured, and celebrated?

Workplace Conditions2: Workplace Conditions

Ask an on-site apartment professional what they find most frustrating about their job and you’ll get an earful of complaints about work conditions that can be utterly defeating. There’s the groundskeeper who is responsible for cleaning the community’s numerous carpeted hallways every day, but the vacuum cleaner is broken and there’s no money in the budget to replace it. There’s the leasing consultant who is so burdened with administrative responsibilities that she can’t find the time to follow up with her prospects and her dismal closing rate reflects that. There’s the assistant manager who spends her days wrestling with new technology initiatives dictated by the corporate office that seem to make work harder instead of easier. There’s the maintenance director who hasn’t had a day off in two months. Is it any wonder workplace morale is flagging and employee engagement can be hard to find?

Multifamily supervisors must be zealous in their effort to make their workplaces work for their team members. Don’t accept that work must be drudgery. Instead, take steps to make the workplace as satisfying and rewarding as it can be for every member of your staff.

Do your associates have the tools, resources, time, and support they need in order to do their jobs well?

Company Integrity3: Company Integrity

Apartment community staff members are in the figurative trenches every day, interacting with prospects and residents. If they don’t have confidence in the promises they make to their customers on behalf of the property management company or owner, their job satisfaction suffers. The leasing consultant or maintenance technician who is constantly getting berated by residents because of construction or service problems is likely to keep their eyes open for a less stressful work opportunity. A commitment to quality, in both product and service delivery, is critically important to employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Multifamily supervisors must embrace and enforce practices that place a priority on customer satisfaction. When customers’ needs are met, everyone wins.

Do your team members feel confident that they are offering their prospects, residents, and other customers a reliably high-quality living experience at your communities?

Forecast4: Forecast for the Future

In a 2015 LinkedIn survey of more than 10,000 U.S. employees, the number one reason people cited for voluntarily quitting their jobs was that there was “lack of opportunities for advancement.” The most satisfied employees are those who are given the opportunity to improve their skills and take on additional responsibilities.

A healthy workplace culture is one that fosters growth and development by offering access to training opportunities and openly promoting available job openings to all team members.

Do your team members have a clearly defined career path at your organization? Do they have the support they need to advance in their career? Can they imagine themselves meeting their career goals within your organization?

Teamwork5: Supportive Teamwork

According to Gallup, close work friendships boost job satisfaction by 50%. When employees have good working relationships with their coworkers and supervisors, work is simply more rewarding. It makes good business sense, then, to build teams that foster friendship and camaraderie.

Good communication and collaboration don’t happen by accident. Multifamily leaders must expend tremendous effort towards building and maintaining effective workplace relationships between coworkers at every level of the organization and throughout various departments and locations. From regularly scheduled meetings to team-based performance incentives and peer-to-peer recognition programs, the organization’s practices must reward effective teamwork. Only when coworkers trust and respect each other can a workplace achieve high levels of employee engagement.

Do your associates benefit from the support of a strong network of positive relationships at work?  Do team members have each other’s backs?

Reaping the Rewards of an Engaged Team

Sky-high disengagement and employee turnover are perhaps the greatest business challenges threatening multifamily owner/operators today. Focus on building and sustaining a positive company culture to improve employee engagement and reap the resulting rewards, including lower absenteeism and turnover, fewer accidents and errors, increased innovation, creativity, and discretionary effort, and markedly higher levels of customer satisfaction. In short, employee engagement matters to your property management workplace and bottom line…a lot!


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