National Apartment Careers Month: Creating a Successful Property Management Team


I had an interesting conversation the other day with a Fair Housing specialist who spent an early February morning working with a client’s newbie employee about the do’s and don’ts of good property management etiquette and general diplomacy. The training session was called after the young office assistant accused a resident of faking a disability to earn sympathy from the property manager for late payment of rent.

Fortunately, the resident, who indeed suffered from a handicap, accepted an apology and didn’t sue the property. The employee learned a hard and fast lesson, and the property dodged a bullet.

The story has particular relevance this month, which is National Apartment Career Month in the apartment industry. It’s a time when future and current career development comes into to focus through a number of events and activities in the industry to promote personal growth in the workforce. It’s also a critical time for property owners, or any others who lead businesses large and small, to remember the value – not just in terms of salary – of employees.

Apartment Job Turnover Could Cost More Than Low Wages

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 11-15 times in a lifetime and stays at each job 4.4 years. Often, workers change companies, leaving employers holding the bag on the investment in training and time. Frequent departures disrupt the continuity of not only the day-to-day but long-term operations of a multifamily property.

It’s no myth that businesses hire inexperienced talent, often on a much lower pay scale – $10-12 per hour – than a seasoned veteran, to keep labor costs low. Often, workers with little street cred are put on the front line, in some cases being the face of a multimillion dollar establishment. The front-end investment appears fiscally fit for the budget but is it always the right move?

The experts say that turnover of an employee on the low end of the pay scale looking for better opportunities can cost about half of annual wages (and upwards of five times yearly salary for top level managers and executives). Costs for training and productivity losses during the replacement process heavily weigh into those numbers.

Some human resource professionals say hiring older workers is less risky. Those who have been around the block a few times are often more dedicated and skilled, and less apt to jump ship for something that looks like a better ride. Seasoned employees have better leadership skills which have been honed over a few years and can more easily relate to clients who are older.

With it may come a price beyond an entry level wage, but it’s probably one that won’t place a business in an awkward – and legally challenging – position.

Wooing Top Talent for Property Management Jobs

However, money isn’t always the key factor at play, especially in retention of key employees during changing times. Given the growth the last couple of years in the apartment industry, holding onto quality talent and developing tomorrow’s key players are important. Financial incentives aren’t always the answer.

Recognizing the true drivers of a property management company with something as simple as a pat on the back from a top executive or handing over the reins to a new project are proven drivers for those who do critical due diligence behind the scenes for any company. The feeling of being an integral part of the team may be more gratifying for an employee than a month-end bonus that could, in fact, serve more as an insult if it’s too small in the eyes of the recipient.

The bottom line is that employees, most leaders will agree, should be embraced and not taken for face value, nor feel they have little to do with the success of the company. There is no better time to for the apartment industry to remind itself of that during National Apartment Careers Month.

Is your property participating in National Apartment Careers Month?



Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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