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Zoom Deejays and Bingo for Morale and Relief

conference call, team, people

By Joe Bousquin

Many apartment community operators have responded to COVID-19-related staff challenges by trying to alleviate stress.

Many apartment community operators have responded to COVID-19-related staff challenges by offering employee counseling programs, virtual Zoom parties complete with deejays and costumes, and sometimes cash bonuses or gift cards to help alleviate the stress.

BH Management has paired employees together through an outreach program to keep workers positive through the crisis. “We provide employee assistance program services for our team members who need additional help working through the stress while going through the pandemic and have mentors along the way for them to lean on when times get too much,” says Senior Regional Vice President Melody King. “We try to remind them continually to have fun. We host parades, online reading clubs, virtual exercise groups, food trucks and provide pop-in surprises for our teams and residents to ensure that they know we are always here to support them in any way we can.”

Marcie Williams, President of Charlotte, N.C.-based RKW Residential also says her firm is helping employees cope through its own employee-assistance program. “We’ve really encouraged our employees to call and utilize the counseling services if they’re stressed about work,” she says, adding that the company is also considering cash incentives.

The Altman Companies has increasingly focused on keeping morale high as the pandemic has worn on, says Chief Operating Officer Tim Peterson. “We’ve been working hard to keep our teams connected. We can’t bring them together physically, but we’ve had a series of virtual hangouts that have included our top leadership calling out and recognizing success from our people in the field. We’ve had a deejay and themes for everyone to dress up and express themselves. The consistent message has been that we are all in this together, and that we are going to win, despite these obstacles.”

A favorite sports team party with staff members dressing as a University of Florida Gator and a Florida State University cheerleader; and a Fourth of July party where an American flag cowboy hat, boots and shirt were on full display.

Audubon held a video contest for staff at its different apartment communities so employees could show how they’ve been coping, with gift cards and dinner on the company as the main prize. “One of our teams did a video showing how they clean all day, wiping down every surface while wearing masks, and they had fun with it; it was hysterical,” says Tammy Shields, Chief Operating Officer. “People are trying to approach it with humor, and we’re doing stuff like that to keep people motivated and happy to be at work.”­—J.B.