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How to overcome high employee turnover in property management

The annual turnover rate in multifamily stands at 33%, far higher than the average national rate of 22%. You’re no stranger to these statistics, but they are worth mentioning because combined with the fact that the average property manager is nearing retirement at 50 years old, it’s not an exaggeration to say that our industry is heading towards a serious talent crunch.

Our team at AppFolio sat down with several property management leaders to gain insight into what can be done to improve employee retention. Here’s what we learned.

Identify what motivates them
According to multifamily expert and performance coach Jackie Ramstedt: “You have to know what motivates people. From Maslow’s hierarchy, we know that it’s food, money, and appreciation.”

The first two are taken care of via salary and health benefits. So how else can you show appreciation?

Jackie continues: “Learn more about each employee individually. Learn what matters to them. What matters to one person might not matter to another. For example, if you learn that one of your team members loves to go fishing, give them a few hours off to do that.”

Be a mentor
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth the time and effort of sitting down with your employees and getting to know them, the answer is —


Not only will you learn what motivates the individual, but as his or her superior, you are showing interest in their career trajectory and that they can depend on you to provide guidance. Gozen Hartman, co-founder and chief operating officer of Fairlawn Real Estate adds that “having a quarterly conversation with each of your direct reports, outside of the office, maybe you go to a meal, but really just asking questions around, are people happy in their role? How can their manager help facilitate their growth?”

When people can see a path to success, it motivates them to work hard — and smart.

Adapt to changing expectations
Millennials —  born between 1982 and 1996 — currently stand as the largest generation in the labor force. Gen Z — those born after 1996 — are slowly entering behind them. These two generations comprise well over one third of the U.S workforce, and their numbers will only continue to grow.

What makes these generational cohorts unique is that they are the first to have grown up with smartphones, apps, and social media. With an innate understanding of digital and computer technologies, they not only want, but expect smart, intuitive technology in the workplace.

Let them be heard
To paint a complete and honest picture of how communication breakdowns can lead to issues with motivation, a property manager wishing to remain anonymous shared the following concerns: “We don’t have open and effective communication at my company and what’s happening is some sort of competition between the different departments. Leasing, construction, and property management. How can you expect your employees to show up every day and bring their A-game when every day feels like a battle with your coworkers?”

Prevent burnout
Jasmyn Sylvester, CPM®, AcoM, and Senior Property Manager at Atlanta-based Pine Tree LLC, and a member of IREM’s 2021 Diversity Advisory Board explains that “Sometimes workload can also contribute to just being burnt out. We get an influx of tasks on a day-to-day basis. Your to-do list is miles long and sometimes you may not even be able to touch it because every day there's a roof leak, there’s a plumbing leak, there is rent collection that needs to be had, budgets are due. So professional development is also a key in that talent retention, and just being able to teach them time management and better ways to deal with the crazy world that is property management.”

So where do we go from here?
The bottom line is that it’s up to leaders in the property management industry to make changes that will lead to better employee retention. The very root of the issue is the demanding nature of the job. Everything suggested above builds upon this.

For more insights, take a look at the full article on the AppFolio blog.


You listed food, money, and appreciation, but let not forget ‘empowerment!’ No one wants to stay in a place where they can’t grow. Offering education, promotions, and more responsibility empowers individuals to experience changes in pace, and to really see a difference being made first hand across an organization, not just from supervisors. By offering these incentives as a form of appreciation, you can minimize burnout, while maximizing potential.


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