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  • May 13, 2022
  • Stacy Holden, Sr. Director and Industry Principal, AppFolio
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The Top Floor Podcast: Barry Blanton and Steve Cadigan weigh-in on how to boost employee satisfaction

Motivated by what has become known as “The Great Resignation,” AppFolio partnered with IREM® to survey boots-on-the-ground property managers, leasing agents, maintenance technicians, and other staff to find what they truly want, in order to help property management companies better attract and retain talent. Published in April, the resulting research report was accompanied by a Top Floor podcast episode featuring 2022 IREM President Barry Blanton and renowned talent strategist Steve Cadigan. The episode explored the staffing shortages currently disrupting the industry, the forces driving employee satisfaction, and solutions for building a magnetic workplace that supports, enables, and retains effective property management teams. Here are the highlights.

Show your employees where the opportunities are

To get things started, we asked Barry about the perception of opportunities available within the property management industry. Since many workers in the survey said they’re dissatisfied with their “opportunities for career growth,” we wanted to know — is there a genuine lack of opportunity, or is this more of a perception problem? Here’s Barry’s take on it: “As an industry, we have a tendency to be a little tunnel-visioned in terms of how we describe what those opportunities are to people coming into the industry. We don't do a terrific job of explaining what other options there are. Sometimes, people either aren't made aware of what some of those things might be, where their passions might be better suited, and how they can evolve more quickly, but they're out there. I mean those range from accountants to human resource management professionals, to marketing professionals, maintenance, and facilities management, technology and finance.”

Steve Cadigan compliments Barry’s thoughts: “I think that if you want people to stay longer, if that really is an aspiration for you, then show them the pathways of opportunity and how what they're doing can connect to something else. What are the steppingstones?

He went on to describe the benefits of prioritizing employee growth, even if you don’t necessarily have a promotion for them at the moment: “People want to be made better for the future. They want to know that you're investing in them. And even if you don't necessarily have a promotion or a step-up in their career right now, I think what you can do is offer new experiences, new projects, new assignments, and/or new classes, or invest in their education, so that you’re building them up.” An example of this, according to Steve, is to think about whether “there are other projects you can give someone as a stretch assignment. Maybe something out of the norm that’s going to allow you to see if someone has the capability to take on more, or maybe deliver value in unexpected ways you weren't sure, or you didn't know they were capable of doing.”

Create a magnetic culture

While compensation and benefits were found to be top drivers of satisfaction, company culture plays an important role as well. The data showed that employees who are not satisfied with their jobs are significantly less likely to have positive views of their company culture, and the biggest gap between employees at risk of leaving their current role and those not at risk was around company culture: Just 43% of at-risk employees agree they enjoy their company culture, compared to 76% of employees not at risk.

According to Barry Blanton: “One of the things I'm most excited about is how the next gen right now really does care about culture. They really do care about making a difference. It isn't just about making money. They can't overlook the fact that they have to earn a living, but they also have some terms by which they want to live their lives. What are those things that matter to them, and then how do we get creative in terms of offering those things?”

If you’re wondering how to define company culture, here’s how Steve Cadigan thinks about it: “Why does someone want to work in your organization? If you can answer that question, you're going to arrive at your culture. What's unique and differentiates you from other environments is how things get done, how people communicate, and the language you use. I really believe culture is the most valuable competitive advantage you have in a world of massive choices for employees today, in a world where they're telling us they're thinking about leaving; in a world where we're seeing more resignations than at any time since we've been measuring it.”

These insights just begin to scratch the surface of what you’ll discover on Season 2, Episode 10 of The Top Floor. Tune in here for the full episode.

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