April 29, 2022 |
Updated April 29, 2022
A permanent four-day workweek– or even better, a three-day weekend – is something most workers can only dream about.
Given today’s somewhat impossible labor market challenges, especially in the apartment industry, where leasing staff and property managers often are needed during weekends or to stay late, it seems impractical.
However, it’s been a goal of Mark Hurley, President, Highland Commercial Properties (HCP), for years and he’s made it a reality for his 110 employees who operate 17 communities spanning about 2,000 apartment homes and 450 single-family homes for rent in San Antonio, Austin and Houston.
Hurley’s team pretty much does not work on Fridays. And that includes the maintenance crew. They instead are on the clock from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with one hour for lunch. They don’t have to work those four remaining hours and are paid for them to complete their 40-hour workweeks but do not have to come to the community. Should an emergency arise, they are paid overtime.
There have been some times when limited onsite staff worked Fridays based on when that month’s rent collections began.
Essentially, “they are getting 52 extra days off per year,” Hurley says.
No Resident Complaints
HCP manages mostly Class C apartment homes for low-income residents who have grown to accept those are the hours of operation based on the goodwill they created with staff members, Hurley said.
Hurley said this work schedule has not resulted in any resident complaints. And yet, his occupancy is basically at 100%, he says.
“We have about 80 vacant units, and those are in the process of being turned, anyway,” he said.
Hurley, who is from Ireland and Cyprus, said he soon discovered that American workers’ mindset is to get their jobs done, regardless of what “office hours” are set.
“Our employees are so hard-working,” Hurley said. “If you emphasize progress and performance and not hours worked, we know that they will get their jobs done.
Strong Culture, Reduced Turnover
And his employees are happy because Hurley puts tremendous emphasis on work culture.
The average term of employment with HCP is 7.09 years.
In 2018 and 2019, HCP had 60 employees turn-over each year. In 2020 and 2021 when it changed to the three-day weekend, its turnover rate dropped by 50%.
“Maintenance techs work so hard, outdoors in the hot sun, cold weather; we treat them as well and with the same high esteem as all of our onsite staff,” he said.
HCP’s maintenance team only performs work orders, which helps to keep their overall load in check, Hurley said. He outsources apartment turns.
“Hiring staff is hard – getting them in the ‘front door,’” but if you keep the back door closed tight by treating them right, you keep them. And happy employees create happy residents. Our staff comes back to their jobs happier and rested and not so stressed out.”
‘No Fees’ Part of Resident Lifestyle
Residents, too, are satisfied with an easier rental lifestyle finance-wise: HCP does not charge application fees or late fees. There are no pet fees and no pet deposits. In fact, HCP charges no fees at all – not even for evictions.
There is free high-speed internet in every apartment, it offers month-to-month leases with no fee to move out provided they give at least one day of notice.
In its “resident rewards” program, residents earn points for every dollar spent. These points can be used for rent discounts, or gift cards to grocery stores and other retailers.
“The four-day workweek is something I’ve always wanted to do; and we’d been working toward it,” Hurley says. “We didn’t start it just because of COVID-19. But fully implementing it in 2020 was easier because of the pandemic.”