Community Management is a tough business for everyone involved. No one understands this more than a manager. There is always one homeowner (and sometimes more) who is unsatisfied and grumpy. It is especially difficult for communities with on-site staff. These employees operate daily in a fishbowl-type environment visible for the community to critique every action and inaction almost instantaneously. This industry is known for its high turnover with employees; however, it is essential to have good employee retention to run a successful and efficient high-rise condominium association. Employee engagement is often challenging for supervisors and employers. Employees want to feel that their contribution to the team is properly valued by their managers and by the homeowners. An engaged employee has a high level of job satisfaction and is key to the right levels of productivity. And we all know that employee productivity is essential to homeowner satisfaction!
As individuals, each one of us is engaged differently. When you blend all of these differences in one room together, it becomes quite a challenge to ensure that you have everyone in the room involved in the conversation. This means that to get a high percentage of participation you need to be very versatile in your approach.
While the need for money may be the reason why most people work, money and health benefits do not solely motivate today's employees. And it’s a good thing, because often, the budgets for a condominium/HOA complex are not very large. People like to be rewarded for a job well done in a variety of forms:
• Public Recognition
• Personal / Private Recognition
• Added Responsibility / Promotions
• Small Monetary Rewards
• Time Off
OK, so are you ready to increase your community’s employee morale? Here are ten ways to increase employee engagement and morale without breaking your community’s budget.
1. Spend time with them.
Often, as a manager, it’s a challenge to find a chance to visit with your employees. However, building that personal connection is important to establishing trust and appreciation. This could be as simple as taking five minutes in the morning to ask them about their weekend, spouse, kids, grandkids, etc. [Bonus tip: Every employee appreciates when their managers remember their loved ones by name.]
2. Empower Them.
No one likes feeling like they are powerless in their day-to-day lives. Work with each employee individually to help identify areas that they can be the decision makers. It may be as small as letting the housekeeper pick which cleaning products she wants to use, but it will make the employee feel empowered and trusted.
3. Little surprises.
Random team lunches, breakfast donuts, afternoon cookies for no reason, $5 Subway Gift Cards, etc. All of these things are small and show that you were thinking of them and that you appreciate your team.
4. Praise and Recognition.
Everyone likes to be recognized. Some prefer public, and some prefer it to be done in private. Equal pieces of public and private recognition are needed to be sure satisfy both audiences. Public recognition for accomplishments can be made during a board meeting, annual meeting, staff meeting, or even in the community newsletter or email blast. Private recognition can be done one-on-one and is especially meaningful if provided immediately. For example, if a maintenance technician is painting a wall and doing a particularly good job be sure to stop and give immediate praise on a job well done.
5. Open Communication.
Most managers have an “open door” policy, but it rarely results in employees coming in to communicate with the managers. Managers must take the initiative to communicate with their team. Employees need to feel that you are genuinely interested in their opinion and concerns. Take the time to collaborate with them on solutions.
6. Be Transparent and Honest.
A team is always in it together, win or lose. By always being open and honest with employees they will learn to trust and appreciate you, and it truly epitomizes a team spirit. Keeping them informed of what is going on in the community goes a long way to establishing that trust and making employees feel that they are important.
7. Be Respectful of Their Time.
Nothing frustrates an employee more than time wasted in a meeting that was seemingly unproductive or excessively long. While regular staff meetings are important, always be cognizant of their time and the fact that work is piling up on each of you while you are in the meeting. Time your meetings strategically so that they minimize the time lost from work and personal time. This is especially important when you schedule staff meetings that involve team members who work nights or weekends. Your workday is their day/time off. Be respectful.
8. Extra Time Off.
Allowing employees some extra time off from occasionally goes a long way to employee morale. Examples of time off opportunities may be as simple as just closing the office a bit early before a holiday, or a random afternoon to volunteer at their child’s school.
9. Opportunities for Personal Growth.
When your company and managers support your personal growth, it’s a clear sign that they recognize your worth and value to the company. Be sure to budget for and offer your employees continuing education programs on a regular basis.
10. Resident Support.
Rally the troops – involve the community. Be sure to tout successes to the community so that they can offer their congratulations as well. Invite the community to your staff birthday parties, etc. It is in their best interest that employees are engaged and have a high level of satisfaction.
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