After the build: Tips for Maintaining Your Property with a Shortage of Labor

By Lauren Fry, Business Development Manager

Almost every industry experienced negative impact from the global pandemic, the commercial property management profession included, and the effects on the labor market have been substantial. Since 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3.0% quit rate, the highest rate on record, deeming this time period the “Great Resignation”.  It has been speculated that the lack of available labor is mostly attributed to one of two scenarios: those who have quit have found new jobs in other industries or have exited the work force entirely.

In addition to the decline in available labor, many property owners put a hold on major projects to control expenses due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Two years later, the commercial real estate market is still feeling the effects of COVID-19.

According to the National Apartment Association (NAA) Chairman and President, the shortage of workers, especially maintenance staff, has become the No. 1 issue discussed by building owners and operators. Finding ways to alleviate the burden on existing staff members will be instrumental in retaining employees while also driving efficiency to meet tenant demands.

Here are three ways to develop more efficiency in your property management during a labor shortage:

Invest in your existing team

Whether new to property management or a long-time staff member, it is critical for property owners to treat employees as an asset, especially well-trained, multifaceted personnel. The NAA and the National Multi-Housing Council (NMHC) data shows property manager turnover rates between 33% and 36%, while the national average employee turnover rate is around 22%. A key reason property managers leave is stress or burnout. With a shortage of workforce, existing employees can feel overwhelmed, overworked, and underappreciated. Investing in current property management employees with continuous training expands their knowledge and skill set, helping them grow within the organization and become more efficient in their responsibilities. Also, this additional training can help existing employees feel more prepared to perform their jobs, alleviating feelings of stress or burnout.

Technology: A time-saving source

There are only 24 hours in a day, and humans can only accomplish so much. Technology has long been a catalyst for increasing efficiency. Investing in digital tools can reduce manual processes and increase productivity.

The average individual utilizes multiple forms of technology in a single day – using an app to order food, schedule an appointment, conducting banking services – making it convenient and efficient to manage his or her daily needs.

With less staff, increasing government regulations, and more demanding tenants, property management software enables automation, centralization, and the creation of seamless interaction with tenants. It puts the property manager in control, delivering real-time information to the end user easier and more effectively.

With the global property management software industry estimated at over $3 billion in 2021, there are a plethora of options for property owners. These digital systems are designed with commercial property demands in mind, delivering time-saving services such as staffing and training software, accounting and banking reconciliation, maintenance scheduling, vendor management, insurance tracking, vacancy management, and tenant management including the distribution of mass messaging through texting or emailing. Other programs are designed to support tenants with access to automatic billing and payment, maintenance scheduling, and mobile inspections.

Maximizing employee time can be as simple as implementing new technology for staff and tenants.

Expand your team through multi-service vendors

With the departure of seasoned employees comes the exit of diverse and historic knowledge. Since the beginning of the “Great Resignation” many property owners and managers have continued to struggle finding reliable replacements for construction and routine service providers. Rather than hire a direct employee, partnering with local commercial property service providers can be an alternative resource. However, finding and managing multiple vendors can be time consuming for property managers who already juggle multiple responsibilities.

Utilizing a single-source commercial property services company helps eliminate the additional time and attention a property manager needs to dedicate to focusing on property maintenance. Using a multi-services provider can ensure your property is being appropriately maintained throughout the year. It also offers to the property manager a single point of contact for multiple services rather than managing multiple relationships with numerous providers. For example, enlisting a snow removal provider who can also service your property’s landscape needs eliminates the hassle of hiring multiple providers and means the same company is responsible for any potential damages to the landscaping during the snow removal season. Additionally, a multi-service provider will often offer discounts for using multiple services.

The pandemic left the commercial real estate industry in disarray. The shortage of available labor continues to burden the industry resulting in disgruntled employees and discouraged tenants. Implementing numerous methods can mitigate the impact and safeguard your property from value loss