The State of Mental Health, Well-Being in the Apartment Industry

5 minute read

Results of a national survey on the state of mental health and well-being in the rental housing industry are now available.

Mental and emotional health are always important topics, and they have become even more vital during the pandemic and the resulting staffing challenges that have elevated pressures on rental housing professionals. The National Apartment Association (NAA) and its Mental Health subcommittee partnered with Swift Bunny to evaluate employee well-being via a national survey.

The goal of this study is to raise awareness of this critically important topic, identify areas that require attention and allow NAA to provide member resources. Despite this survey dealing with personal and sensitive topics, the reaction from the industry was significant. More than 2,300 employees responded, including corporate office personnel, regional operations team members and onsite employees, the latter of which represented 73.5% of respondents.

The results were analyzed, and mental and emotional health were discussed in a December 2021 webinar, “NAA’s Mental and Emotional Health Survey: Challenges Facing Today’s Workforce.”

The Findings

One of the more surprising findings was that nearly a quarter of respondents said they are unsure whether employee well-being is a priority at their company. And just over one-in-four employees are unsure or unlikely they will be with their current company within the next 12 months. The study used an Agreement/Importance (A/I) algorithm to score employees’ feelings on a particular topic based on how much they agree with the statement and how important they feel the statement is based on a 1-5 scale. The A/I score is on a 1-100 scale, and the lower the score, the greater the opportunity to improve employee experiences.

Overall, the topics with the lowest A/I score were related to stress and the effect of their workload on mental health, productivity at work and personal lives. Although no topics surpassed an A/I score of 75, the topics with highest scores related to the company, leadership and the people. Topics were also broken down by seven employee subsections: Corporate acquisitions/development; corporate operations; corporate support services; regional operations; onsite management; onsite leasing; and onsite maintenance.

The Topics

The lowest ranked topic was, “Overall, I feel less stressed than I did a year ago,” with fewer than 36% of respondents agreeing. Employees were concerned with the labor shortage, wages and unrealistic deadlines. Half of onsite management employees disagreed or totally disagreed with this statement, the highest of all employees. Just shy of half the regional operations staff disagreed.

Despite it ranking second highest in importance, “In the last month, my mental and emotional health has not interfered with my personal life,” only a third of respondents agree or totally agree with the statement. A third of onsite management staff also disagree or strongly disagree. The statement had the second lowest A/I score.

“I rarely feel stressed about my workload” was the third lowest in agreement, and just over a third of respondents agree or totally agree with the statement. There is also a correlation between workload stress and the employee’s future with the company. “This indicates that negative attitudes about work-related stress are expected or accepted to an extent,” according to the study. “While feelings of stress may not be the primary driver to cause an employee to leave a company, they are a contributing factor that can be addressed.”

Corporate and regional operations employees disagreed at a rate of 50% and 45%, respectively, with the statement “the demands of my job rarely interfere with my personal life.” This proves employees need a separation of their personal and professional lives. The survey suggests allowing for more flexible work options such as a hybrid work schedule to allow for employees to meet their own scheduling needs.

While a simple statement, “I feel emotionally well,” only half of respondents agree with this, and nearly a third are unsure or are unwilling to reveal their feelings. What is concerning is that roughly one-in-five onsite leasing and onsite managers disagree or totally disagree with feeling emotionally well. “This is an opportunity for leaders to regularly have open conversations on the topic, making it a more comfortable part of the company language,” according to the study.

“I rarely feel stressed about my interactions with team members,” scored the highest on the A/I scale, and two-thirds of respondents agree or strongly agree with the statement. Ownership of this falls on leaders. “Leaders can set the expectation of conduct among team members so that clarity exists on what is acceptable and unacceptable, and also create accountability within teams,” according to the survey.

Nearly 40% of employees reported taking time off “due to not feeling emotionally well enough to perform your job.” Onsite management and onsite leasing staff each reported 11% took one to two weeks of time away from their jobs—the only employment subsection in double-digits.

The study gives multiple objectives for an action plan to improve employee mental health and well-being. Among the objectives are to offer training and support so the stigma surrounding mental health is removed; evaluate and promote resources; have leaders commit to addressing workplace challenges; and identity ways to reduce stress and employee burnout.

Michael Miller is Managing Editor at NAA.

NAA’s 2022 Mental and Emotional Health Survey—Sign Up Today!

Last year, NAA conducted a groundbreaking Mental and Emotional Health Survey for the rental-housing industry, with more than 2,300 employees providing feedback.  This issue remains very important due to the pandemic, industry staffing challenges and how this has affected people’s work and personal lives. Therefore, NAA will be conducting another national employee survey, which will remain anonymous, complimentary and quick and easy to complete. This year's survey opens on March 14,2022 and closes on April 15, 2022.

Sign-up your organization today. Let your employees' experiences be counted. Learn how you may best address this critical and timely issue within your organization.