Cutting Tasks Not People: The Game of Success and Engagement

Changing the approach to employment can help retain workers. 

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3 minute read

Few things are less gratifying in the workplace than slogging through repetitive daily tasks. They have a soul-crushing quality and do little to promote employee wellness.  

In a fast-paced multifamily industry where recruiting and retaining high-performing associates is critical, finding ways to limit or eliminate those wearisome tasks is paramount. Doing so can be a significant steppingstone to creating a happy workplace, according to panelists at the 2023 Apartmentalize session “Cutting Tasks Not People: The Game of Success and Engagement.” 

“In 2022, apartment managers were spending one-third of their time sourcing candidates,” says Jessica Eberach, Vice President of People and Culture for Tricap Residential Group. “That means time spent looking at their resumes, emailing and trying to schedule a time to speak to them. If you think about it, that’s a lot of time spent during a given week when you already have a lot of other things on your plate.” 

A compilation of industry data indicates that happy employees are 12% more productive and companies with happy employees outpace competition by 20%. Additionally, a recent Gallup poll shows that more than half of U.S. workers are quiet quitters while 18% are loud quitters, meaning they are actively disengaged.  

Leasing office automation tools have become the most popular in the industry, as they enable teams to schedule community tasks based on skills and expertise, provide self-service guidance for residents and provide automated follow-ups to prospects, residents and vendors. While that technology improves the daily lives of onsite teams, it doesn’t necessarily attract new associates.  

Fortunately for the industry, automation technology is also available to help operators streamline the candidate search process. Digital personality tests, calendar apps to schedule interviews and self-paced training platforms all can streamline the process. Some organizations also utilize cognitive tools such as gamification to help gauge personalities and potential task proficiency.  

Mike Whaling, President of 30 Lines, says ChatGPT can be used not only in a content-creating capacity, but also to provide reports and analysis. For instance, operators can load all their reviews into the platform—whether from residents or team members—and ask it to extract the positives and negatives, which can assist in developing the ideal employee candidates.   

“You can upload a report into ChatGPT and ask it to provide a summary,” Whaling says. “You can even ask them to provide it in the voice of [actor] Samuel L. Jackson, although I wouldn’t recommend that. But the platform can provide analysis when you ask it to identify the top key points and to provide a three-paragraph summary of the data.”   

The industry sometimes has difficulty retaining maintenance personnel due to factors such as poor work-life balance, communication issues, inadequate training and lack of appreciation and support. Dawn Ford, Broker and Owner of Smart Apartment Solutions and Smart Moves, says multifamily maintenance could become the next gig economy and that flex schedules, automation tools and moving away from the standard work-hours model could enable part-timers to be successful.  

“While the unemployment rate is going down, that is not the case in construction—and maintenance falls into construction,” Ford says. “Between quiet quitting and the high number of job openings in the apartment maintenance sector, the gig-economy approach could be an option.” 

Paul Willis is a Content Director for LinnellTaylor Marketing.