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Increasing ROI by Investing in Your Culture

Work culture
November 2019

Creating a genuinely engaged staff doesn’t come by just snapping your fingers. It happens gradually and authentically.

The apartment industry works diligently to attract prospects in new, tech-savvy ways. The competition is fierce. But organizations within the industry can also make a significant impact in another way – by investing in their own people.

Yes, leases are the key component of the rental housing industry and the way organizations measure bottom-line success. On the backend, however, are the teams that generate those leases. The more enthusiastic, engaged and results-oriented those associates are, the more they’ll pride themselves on creating an amazing community experience.

Oftentimes, there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and resident satisfaction. A dynamic company culture plays a key role in that pursuit.

On the surface, company culture can seem like a universal concept that every company prioritizes to some degree. But creating a genuinely engaged culture isn’t a snap-your-fingers process. It’s one that happens gradually and authentically. When an organization has a truly vibrant culture, it’s palpable. It’s not a handful of associates lukewarmly reciting company slogans or over-enthusiastically praising their company to the point that it’s not believable.

While defining the precise components of a robust company culture can be a bit ambiguous, the telltale signs include engaged associates who sincerely appreciate one another, collaborate well and simply enjoy coming to work. The ROI of a strong company culture can be difficult to quantify when compared to occupancy numbers and renewal rates, but data exists that can tell the story.

For instance, if 60 percent of a company’s associates arrived via referrals from existing associates, it means they enjoy the company so much they’ll recommend it to their friends or family. A compelling industry topic during the past few years has been the pronounced need to attract and retain high-performing associates. A vigorous company culture is among the best ways to do so. While it’s not an overnight process, there are a few ways to help develop it at an organization.

Targeted Recruiting

During the recruiting process, culture-infused organizations will seek engaged, authentic people. Knowing the business doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for a prospective team member, but ambition does. As part of the effort to attract such talent, companies must convey that their people are just as important as the bottom line. Some companies will go to unconventional lengths in the onboarding process to determine whether the new associate is a solid fit, including uniting recruits with current team members at social events.

Organizational Buy-In

A company’s top leadership must believe that culture is a differentiator – and must be willing to budget for culture-related programs. They also have to be an active participant of the programs they budget for and play an integral role. Examples of culture-enhancing programs include monthly awards and recognition for top performances, incentives for reaching leasing and renewal goals, various daily contests, employee spotlights on community websites and anything else that helps associates feel appreciated.

To prove to leadership teams that these components are important, onsite teams need to generate constant feedback that indicates so. While resident surveys are a regular component, associate surveys can also play a key role.

Stay the Course

Many companies’ staffs in the industry are experiencing rapid growth. As that growth occurs, the potential exists for some dilution of culture, especially from a recruitment standpoint. That underscores the need for companies to be diligent to not sacrifice their culture-related standards. Companies that solicit feedback from all disciplines of the organization (development, IT, human resources, construction, etc.) and develop a cultural outline based on the aggregate feedback will have a stronger chance of maintaining it as they grow.

Organizations can help associates remain engaged by providing them the tools to succeed, particularly those of the tech variety. Tech features such as package lockers and mobile-based apps that help leasing and maintenance teams respond to real-time requests can assist from a logistical standpoint. Associate-centric community websites with photos and regular features can enhance engagement by making team members feel appreciated.

When associates aren’t put first, they aren’t as eager to arrive at work because the engagement level isn’t there. When they are engaged, the satisfaction level of residents will often rise accordingly.

The pursuit of dynamic company culture might not be perfect in all instances, but it can serve as a key differentiator from your peers. Associates in a culture-rich environment hold each other accountable to maintain that culture. They take pride in their work because they genuinely care about their teammates and believe the company truly values them.