Every day, my staff walks past a poster I hung over a decade ago. It says: “If You Don’t Take Care of the Customer, Someone Else Will.” For me, it’s not a cliché. It’s part of what I learned growing up an Irish Catholic kid in South Boston: how you decide to treat people is a simple but determinative driver of your own success.
I am retiring later this year, after 17 years at NAA. In addition to helping turn our association into a profitable enterprise, I hope my legacy is that our industry continues to roll up its sleeves and deliver high quality service.
Customer service is always #1. It’s NAA’s mantra. It’s what we strive to deliver to the 170 state and local affiliated associations we support. And it’s what they in turn provide to more than 72,000 members nationwide.
However, the recently finalized Department of Labor Overtime Rule threatens the ability of our members, who are in the business of housing American families, to provide the excellent customer service we all strive for.
Effective Dec. 1, the Overtime Rule undermines a system that promotes employees’ career advancement opportunities, flexible structuring in their hours, and security in their job classification. The rule would increase the salary threshold under which most employees must be paid overtime from $23,660 to $47,476.
This rule threatens to restrict hours, limit or reduce pay and creates hurdles for employees trying to climb a career ladder. Employee morale will be diminished and apartment residents could receive fewer services and longer wait times. Our members are at risk of losing the faith and trust of both their valued employees and their apartment residents.
As an industry, we provide people with a fulfilling career path and homes for more than 38 million people. We take care of them and their needs. People who choose to live in professionally managed apartment communities come to rely on this high level of service and the employees who provide it. This new Overtime Rule could place that faith in question.
The apartment housing industry is not alone in experiencing the unintended consequences of this new federal regulation. Large and small businesses, colleges and universities, nonprofits, schools and cities and counties will all be affected.
NAA has worked very hard to enable our members to provide the best service possible for their residents. Your help is critical to these efforts. I encourage everyone to learn more about the Overtime Rule at the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (NAA is a member). Then, armed with this knowledge, please join me in utilizing our Advocacy365 Action Center to contact your members of Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor legislation introduced in the House and Senate that would mitigate some of the Overtime Rule’s most harmful impacts.
I may be retiring but I don’t want to turn back the clock on our employees. Their future is bright and it needs to stay that way.