Is the Multifamily Industry Facing a Skills Gap Crisis?

Is the Multifamily Industry Facing a Skills Gap Crisis?

Professional Development. I’m willing to bet that at some point in the last few months, you’ve heard those words from your boss or even your local apartment association.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to work for a company that has an entire department at the corporate office devoted to it. Companies spend thousands of dollars a year on professional development programs, providing everything from internal mentoring match-ups, to online and in-person training classes, to leadership retreats, to paying for memberships in their local associations that give employees access to networking and education opportunities within their industry.

So why are so many CEOs and companies reporting that their workforce is experiencing a significant “skills gap” with the demands of their current positions and the skills needed to “compete effectively in the coming years?”

Technology Outpacing Property Management Employee Skill Sets

According to Accenture’s 2013 research, nearly half of the companies surveyed (46%) share this skill gap fear for the future. Accenture postulates that one cause behind this gap is quick changes in both the marketplace and in technology, a situation that property management professionals know all too well. If I told you seven years ago that you needed to look into hiring someone to specialize in Facebook and Pinterest postings, you’d have looked at me like I was crazy; and yet today, there are entire teams working for multifamily housing companies that are devoted to social media management.

Critical Thinking Tops the Skills Gap

It’s not just the hard skills that are missing, like accounting, capital development planning, and NOI management; what’s really coming up on the light end of the scales are the soft skills. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the four skills that top the gap are critical thought, professionalism, written communication, and leadership. This could stem from a combination of generational influences and the myth that these abilities are “talents” that people are born with, not a skill set that can be effectively taught, but whatever the cause, we are running out of people who can captain the ship, so to speak. And, as Accenture points out, there are definite ramifications to the persistence of these skill gaps among an employee base.

Those surveyed are preparing for a potential increase in operational costs due to a drop off of critical skills–66% of them think they will lose business to a competing company, and almost two-thirds of them – 64% – are anticipating negative effects on their income and business growth goals. Most alarmingly though, will be the possible effects on employee performance and productivity. Accenture discovered that 87% of respondents “believe that a skills gap increases stress on existing employees, who need to cope with new challenges while lacking the appropriate tool set of skills.”

Closing the Gap with Employee Training

The Accenture report emphasizes education as one of the main ways to combat this growing problem. The good news is that it seems a majority of companies are willing to embrace this resolution. When it comes to education dollars in 2014, 51% of the companies surveyed are expecting to increase the amount of money they’re investing in their training departments this year.

This is positive news. Since the recession, training has topped the list of budget cuts for many companies. Of these companies, 43% aren’t planning to increase their budget for training, but they do anticipate their amount of investment to keep true to current levels.

Do you believe that the skill levels of your employees and coworkers are sufficient enough to compete effectively in the coming years? What does your training budget look like? Are you experiencing a skill-set gap in your workplace, especially when it comes to social media?

Share your stories in the comments below.

 

(Image source: Shutterstock)

 


Behind the Leasing Desk Training and Consulting Services

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Heather Blume has a contagious energy and passion that goes to the heart of the multifamily industry. Her work on site, combined with her work as a vendor, give Heather a unique perspective that allows her to enable those around her to find their own success. Currently, Heather is the Imagination In Charge of Behind the Leasing Desk Training and Consulting Services, a training and consulting firm out of the Seattle area that specializes in meeting the specific needs of multifamily clients who may be experiencing challenges in different facets of the property management world. She is an accomplished national speaker and trainer, and her blog posts, podcasts, and articles are visited by thousands of apartment professionals each month. Her work has been seen in industry publications across the country, including UNITS Magazine. Besides holding her CAS designation, Heather is NAA Advanced Instructor trained and has been a member of the NAAEI Faculty since 2009, as well as a Washington Multi-Family Housing Association NALP and CAM instructor. Heather’s blog, Behind the Leasing Desk, shares her ideas on everything in her corner of the property management universe. Heather provides an educated and objective point of view coupled with a sense of humor that is valued by her readers and clients.

  • Barbara Hopper

    I concur with the thoughts and statistics expressed in this article on skills gap. I would add that from my experience, I am encountering an entire generation that cannot engage in a one-on-one dialogue or communication with another person, they seem to be geared entirely to electronic communications and shy away from 1-on1 contact with anyone. Additionally, there seems to be this sense that they don’t have to “take your crap” when residents come with legitimate complains and concerns. If the customer is angry or strongly expressing themselves the response seems to be don’t talk to me like that this is not my problem or a simply I don’t need to take this from you. No ability to dissolve a tenuous situation and retain a resident and build customer service skills. It is extremely bad.

  • Barbara-
    The one-on-one face-to-face communication skill gap frightens me as well. The further we move forward with technology, the easier it will be for people to retreat in to the faceless world that it provides. Customer service and conflict resolution classes can help a lot with that, as can the classes offered in the CAM and NALP curricula by NAAEI. Additionally, employing a newspaper to the nose might be helpful. At least, it works on my dog. 🙂

  • Property professionals who are able to communicate with people from different cultures will have an edge over those who cannot. Not all cultures are accustomed to the rental processes and procedures we have in the United States. Rental professionals who successfully attract and retain multicultural residents can have a vibrant community as well as a healthier bottom line.

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