With so much competition in the multifamily industry, it can be difficult to retain employees. However, retention has proven invaluable to residential businesses large and small when it comes to long-term performance. High retention rates have measurable benefits, including retention of institutional knowledge, savings on hiring costs, and increased productivity and consistency across the business.
There’s no exact formula for improving retention rates, but many companies rely on a strong culture to keep employees happy and engaged. While building this culture doesn’t happen overnight, some of these necessary steps will pay off in the long run.
“When you get more engaged and motivated employees, you get so much more out of them,” said Natalie Diaz, chief of staff at Time Actions. “You get more productivity, more innovation, more new ideas, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”
EACH EMPLOYEE HAS ONE VOTE
One of the most important parts of a good company culture is making sure everyone feels included in the conversation and that their opinions are heard. In this way, employees are more likely to stay because they feel they can contribute to the progress of the company.
“Creating a culture where people can feel comfortable speaking their minds and not worrying about repercussions is really important,” noted Summer Haltli, director in charge of FCPstrategy, operations, fund management, communication and corporate culture. “This open discussion helps our performance because people can consider a variety of ideas and feel comfortable bringing them up.”
Despite its size, Haltli said FCP had a 97% retention rate for its employees in 2021 and a 10-year average of 94% retention, which is above the industry average. She added that they have an open investment process where everyone in the company is allowed to have their say on every opportunity.
Surveys are also a great way to keep your employees engaged and ensure managers are aware of any concerns. Companies can then create clear guidelines or plans to address what employees are looking for in their role. FCP did this, as well as hiring outside consultants to facilitate. From there, the company learned that people thought there was no clear understanding of how to get promoted, so the company developed an objective plan that defined roles and outlined formal career plans.
For Time Equities, Diaz said the company looked at micro and macro ways to improve corporate culture, which were gleaned from various committees, employee surveys and, more simply, one-to-one conversations. She added that company-wide policies are informed by employee feedback because they are the ones who will be affected by it.
“I try to keep a really open process where I’m able to get input from a lot of people in the business,” Diaz said. “It’s important to me that what I hear comes from people of all seniority levels, all departments, all walks of life.”
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE
It is not enough to listen to what your employees say. A healthy corporate culture is one that takes care of its employees. AT Birchstone Residentialco-founder and chairman David Deitz said the culture of service he has instilled in the company since its founding in 2018 also applies to its associates.
To ensure its employees are taken care of, Birchstone Residential offers a health insurance package that covers costs above the industry average and a 401K that is fully vested from day one. With that, the company enjoyed a 76% retention rate even at the height of the pandemic, Deitz said, noting that people joined from some of the biggest well-known companies in the industry because they hear about the company. culture instilled and how much people are valued in their roles.
“I sleep better at night knowing that if a family member or child needs medication or surgery, our associates can afford to have the best insurance in the country to cover themselves and their families. families,” Deitz said.. “And I sleep better at night too knowing that people can come and work for us for the next 20, 30, 40 years and retire with us, and come away with a nice retirement nest egg that can help support them. their needs and those of their families.
At Time Equities, one of the key steps taken recently was the adoption of its first-ever parental leave policy. The idea for the policy came from the Women’s Equity Committee, which Diaz founded in 2018, and included input from employees who have children.
“Without a real policy that goes beyond how are we going to attract and retain women who may have children, why would they decide to work at Time Equities?” Diaz said. “For me, it was fundamental to our ability to attract and retain women, high-level women at that.”
Diaz said the committee is currently focused on overhauling its performance appraisal system by developing a standardized and comprehensive process to provide its employees with a fairer experience.
REMEMBER THE LITTLE THINGS
While some of these strategies take time to implement, smaller things can also contribute to a company’s culture. These can include things like getting better coffee for the office, creating a weekly newsletter for each team, organizing wellness events and game days. For example, Diaz mentions plant-based lunches, mental health seminars, and yoga classes from Time Equities. At Birchstone, employees have access to quarterly events like spa days, baseball games, and even indoor go-karting.
On the other hand, employee participation in volunteer and community events can also be a way to develop company culture. At FCP, the employee-led FCP Serves program has a signature campaign that provides school supplies and backpacks to its properties. But, the program pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic where FCP employees were helping residents with rental assistance, food deliveries and connecting them to nonprofit services.
A HOLISTIC VISION
While there are many specific ways to improve company culture, the idea should be embraced holistically. From small steps like creating corporate events to bigger, impactful policies like parental leave, a business needs to fully embrace it to work.
“You have to hire staff where they are and you have to move from high-ranking people to your interns,” Diaz said. “You need to generate that buy-in, build community and build networks, while making sure your workplace is inclusive so people feel comfortable sharing ideas and participating in company events.”
But once you establish a strong company culture, employees will be able to identify more with the company and be more likely to stay. In return, you will enjoy higher retention rates and all the benefits that come with it.
“The real benefit is that it allows us to have institutional knowledge, so you have the person who underwrote that transaction and built those relationships in those markets providing continuity,” Haltli said, adding that ultimately leads to better performance for investors.