According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans who quit their jobs reached a record high of 4.5 million in November 2021. And this mass exodus of employees quitting their jobs shows no signs of slowing down. The Great Resignation, or the “big quit,” began in early 2021 and has affected virtually every industry but has been especially difficult for residential property management, which remains one of the industries most challenged with filling vacancies.

A deep understanding of today’s labor market is a good starting point for acquiring new staff and boosting employee retention during this challenging period.

How it Began    

We've all heard about the vast number of job openings and employers' inability to fill them. But why are they open, and how did the Great Resignation even start? Experts cite numerous reasons, but it all boils down to a few causes: employee burnout, concerns about returning to work during a global pandemic, and inadequate pay. Experts say the Covid pandemic has magnified what truly matters to people. As a result, people are walking away from jobs that don't satisfy them. According to a survey conducted by Gallup, 48% of U.S. employees were actively job searching or watching for new job opportunities throughout 2021. Experts say employers are experiencing the highest "quit rates" since the government started keeping track of this statistic twenty years ago. Employees are leaving their jobs to reevaluate their approach to work and switching careers or industries for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Why Workers are Fatigued

As Covid continues to rage on, American workers continue to be anxious. They are overwhelmed, isolated, and simply exhausted by a pandemic with seemingly no end in sight. Experts also blame some of their fatigue on toxic corporate cultures and companies’ poor response to the pandemic. Other reasons cited are the lack of adequate childcare as some facilities have temporarily closed and ongoing health and safety concerns now exacerbated by the Omicron variant. Many employees are tired of the uncertainty of what the new normal will look like, wanting their employers to implement permanent work-life balance policies. From CEOs to health care workers to condominium and community property managers, employees are trading burnout for family time and jobs that provide more flexibility. They are leaving what they consider to be toxic working environments and turning to employers that lead with empathy and understanding. As many believe we may be living with the virus for a very long time, workers have given up on defeating it and are shifting instead towards things that matter to them most, their families and their mental and emotional well-being. The pandemic gave many a chance to pause and take stock of their personal and professional lives.

What Workers Want

With the number of job openings on the rise, employers are under pressure to figure out what is needed to retain and attract new talent. So what do workers want? A survey conducted by Indeed, an employment website for job listings, revealed that 58% of workers wanted more flexibility with their schedules. And while some employers want their employees to return to the office to a pre-pandemic scenario, many workers reject the idea of being in the office full time. Other employee demands include time off for childcare, higher wages, and empathy and understanding from their employers.

Workers also want more support and to feel valued. A study conducted last year by Ernst and Young, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, revealed that 54% of workers left a previous job because they didn’t think their boss was empathetic to their struggles at work, and 49% said employers were unsympathetic to their personal lives.

Employees also want leadership and growth opportunities and for the organizations they work for to provide the tools needed to help them perform better. The right tools can increase efficiency, and when your employees don't have the tools they need, it can significantly hurt productivity in the workplace, hurting your organization's bottom line.

As the workforce continues to experience a shift away from the status quo, employers will need to take a deeper dive to determine how to mutually set the terms for where and how employees do their jobs.

Industry Hiring Challenges

The Great Resignation is affecting all industries but quitting rates are exceptionally high for in-person roles in hospitality, retail, and healthcare, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The property management industry is facing hiring challenges as condominiums and community associations find it increasingly difficult to secure and retain qualified employees.

FirstService Residential is addressing these challenges by examining them and providing potential and existing employees with professional development opportunities for growth.

“We’re studying the market to understand what employees require to ensure the top talent in the industry joins our organization,” said Maureen Connolly, vice president of FirstService Residential.

When roles remain unfilled, the existing team is deeply affected. They must work overtime to meet the residents' expectations in a condominium or HOA community. The vendors who serve these communities must do the same when they cannot fill their staffing requirements. Employees are doubling up, working weekends, and asking those around them to fill in any gaps – not a sustainable strategy. It's no surprise that this high-pressure environment leads to high turnover in the industry.

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Improving Employee Hiring and Retention Efforts

Because of the tight and competitive job market where employees have most of the power, many businesses have changed their recruiting and retaining strategies.

“The Great Resignation has played a significant role within the community association industry, providing us with an opportunity to acquire talent from sources not previously considered,” said Brian Pompos, director of Talent Acquisition at FirstService Residential. “Statistics and industry experts predict this trend will continue well into 2022.”

As companies continue to compete for people, they should take inventory of their current policies and build flexibility and empathy into their culture. Companies should recognize that the flexibility to work from home, for example, could lead to increased productivity and that many of today’s workers simply won’t consider companies that don’t allow it. Companies that understand workers’ needs and take them seriously will be better equipped to weather the Great Resignation.

FirstService Residential recognizes the importance of hiring and retaining great associates to enhance property values and resident lifestyles. Here are some steps businesses, including condominium and community associations, can take to support their hiring and retention efforts.

1.  Create a robust professional development program
Professional development programs help employees improve their skillsets and job satisfaction, resulting in higher employee retention. It also shows your employees that you care about their career progression and are interested in keeping them at your organization long term.

2.  Allow Work Flexibility
Work flexibility means realizing that your employee may have a busy life beyond work, providing them with alternatives to help them meet the demands of their professional lives. It can boost their morale, reduce stress and increase productivity. Many experts believe that providing work flexibility is no longer an option, but a requirement to attract and retain great employees in today's job market.

3.  Offer Fair and Reasonable Pay
One of the most effective ways to attract great talent is through great pay. A well-compensated employee is more likely to stay in their job. They may worry less about staying financially afloat, leading to higher productivity and better quality of work.

4.  Be More Empathetic
Empathetic leadership in the workplace can lead to more effective communication and can help you better relate to your coworkers and employees. Empathy at work means understanding the importance of teamwork and showing sincere interest in employees' needs. Empathetic leaders recognize that it's part of their role to support team members when they need it most.

Friday January 28, 2022