By Nathaniel Kunes
With low unemployment rates and a great job market, many industries are facing a talent shortage on some level. This is the reality for the property management industry today, and it’s not merely a result of the job market. There’s another factor making the shortage felt harder in property management: their talent is retiring, fast.
Roughly 50 years is the average age of a property manager today, meaning a large group of property management talent will be retiring in the next decade or so. Meanwhile, recruiting young talent is more difficult to do, especially as so many organizations, across a variety of industries, offer tough competition, securing hard-to-get talent through perks like attractive work-life balance options, increased work flexibility and engaging, modern office spaces. These are perks property management lacks.
In some ways, it’s simply the nature of the work in the property management industry that makes top-notch, popular perks tricky to replicate. Regardless, something needs to be done to get young talent more engaged with the property management industry. Luckily, there are ways, through a combination of modern tech and thoughtful leadership, that will help turn the tides for property management in the talent recruitment and retention arena.
Change Your Approach When It Comes to Millennial and Gen Z Talent
The property management industry is one that literally never sleeps. Anything can happen at a moment’s notice that can completely disrupt a property manager’s work-life balance, be it a leak, a loud tenant or a last-minute collections issue. Weekend leisure is often cut short by these types of scenarios. Given that, company culture needs to be a key factor in attracting and retaining the right talent.
Beyond some of the more obvious perks, like having free drinks and snacks in the office, it’s important to think outside of the box, with sometimes much less tactical approaches. One great way to do this is to create a mentorship program so that every new hire gets paired with a mentor to help them navigate the waters and their work, and help them grow and achieve their career goals. Having growth opportunities is a core factor to millennial and Gen Z happiness in the workplace, so making that a reality is pivotal to keeping them on board.
Having a well-structured onboarding process is also a huge asset for recruiting talent. The property management industry, apart from being work-intensive, is also laden with rules and procedures across every aspect of the business that are difficult to learn and sometimes understand. Having an effective onboarding process, especially one that teaches new hires how to use technology to maximize their time, reduces error on the part of new employees, helps them pick up their roles with more speed and ultimately curbs some of the frustrations that come in learning those new roles.
Implement New Technologies To Create More Efficient Workflows, More Rewarding Work
Much like good leadership can keep great talent, so, too, can modern technology. Advancements in the proptech space are not only creating better renter experiences, but also reshaping the role of a property manager, as well as the roles of other real estate professionals.
One area in which AI is taking center stage is in the leasing cycle, serving to streamline workflows for leasing agents and property managers (often a dual role). Where leasing agents once used to have to field all rental queries, which required them spending valuable time on the phone and email with thoughtful responses, instead of showing units to prospects, today’s advanced AI capabilities eradicate the initial tedious steps in the leasing process. This leaves agents with more time to focus on business strategy and close deals with prospects, as well as put aside some of the more administrative responsibilities of the job, replacing that time with more important and meaningful work. Meaningful work is very important to most people — so using tech to pave the way for more opportunities for that kind of work in property management is a surefire solution to inspire more interest and engagement from outside talent.
Advancements in other areas, such as mobile, have also worked to make property management easier. The job of a property manager is oriented toward on-the-go work circumstances, not a 9-to-5 desk job. Given that, mobile capabilities and functionalities that enable people to do work “in the field” take a lot of pressure off employees who might otherwise be struggling at the end of every day with paper-based administrative work they need to complete in-office. Mobile functionalities might include everything from giving property managers the ability to conduct mobile inspections to being able to text (and even automate text messages) to communicate with tenants.
Additionally, on the marketing side, tech advancements automate the otherwise manual process of vacancy postings, giving property management the ability to instantly get listings uploaded to multiple websites, and giving them time back to focus on less manual, more strategic work.
Effectively, through tech and thoughtful leadership, the property management industry can forgo flashy office perks and, instead, offer real-world solutions to help make the work more rewarding, ultimately helping to attract and retain talent.