Employee Turnover – An Onsite Perspective

Episode 35

We all know that employee turnover is an ongoing problem within the property management community. We welcome back Kathy Woodard from Harbor Group and Mrs. Gamechanger to discuss her recent experience and give us an onsite perspective.

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Our Special Guest: Kathy Woodard from Harbor Group Management and Mrs.Game Changer

Kathy Woodard is an industry icon with a career spanning over 25 years. She is an NAAEI faculty member, CAPS/CAM/HVAC Certified Specialist. Her most significant experience is related to acquisition transitions, occupancy jumping, systems training, operations management, and motivational speaking. Kathy currently represents Harbor Group Management and has her own Property Management Support company – MrsGamechanger.fun.

Show Highlights

Kathy Woodard, who has worked in multiple aspects of property management, joins us to discuss the employee turnover challenge. She shares some great insights and tips that she and her team at Harbor Group have implemented to tackle this challenge.

Key Questions/Topics Covered

What brought you back to onsite management?

I was working with large property management companies as the Director of Multifamily Division for an HVAC company. I was doing a lot of motivational speaking for property management companies and having daily motivational conversations with property managers all over the country. This helped me realize how much I missed the property management side of things. I determined I wasn’t where I was supposed to be and fell into this fantastic opportunity with a company that matched my beliefs in company culture. I joined Harbor Group International and have been loving it ever since.

Stress level magnification and employee turnover

Through my MrsGameChanger.fun communications, I began having daily conversations with managers that literally would “cry”…  tears, blubbering, ugly crying.  The stories they gave me were appalling about the experiences they were having on site. Their struggles ranged from how residents were treating them due to Covid right down to how employees were treating each other.

This gave me a good idea of what I would be facing upon my return. The good news was I was very refreshed from my break and ready to “jump in and hold on.” It didn’t take me long to experience some of what others had relayed to me. The residents were are all home.   All the kids were homeschooled, and all the pools are closed. It was going to be a long summer.

Because Woodlake Reserve was an acquisition property, I was blessed with the opportunity to hire my own team. I have a history with all my amazing team members, so I have not suffered as others have. But I am still communicating with clients all over the country via MrsGamechanger.fun, and here is what I am hearing.  Long-time, seasoned maintenance gurus are jumping ship now, during the busiest season, and starting new careers in cross-over industries. We have expected them to be plumbers, HVAC techs, electricians, and garbage men. While our office personnel is enjoying the luxury of air conditioning, our maintenance teams have exhausted themselves. Maintenance staff feels the pressure not only from their jobs but from dealing with residents as well. When these stresses aren’t managed effectively, we lose good people.

How the Harbor Group is tackling the turnover challenge

We are hiring!  Experience does not HAVE to be part of the qualifying criteria. Not every kid wants to go to college. I have two sons, and I’ve told them often, “A man has got to work”!!!!  Also, there has been a very encouraging movement of women entering into the maintenance field. Harbor Group encourages diversity, and we are committed to recruiting, training, and educating those with solid work ethics and integrity who want a career in our amazing industry. By providing an environment where people can grow and learn, we are tackling the turnover challenge.

How do you keep your teams motivated?

This year we had a 3-day virtual managers conference. It was wonderful. Managers and supervisors enjoyed the motivation from on site. It was the perfect mix of activities with breaks so we could continue to manage our properties during the busiest time of the year.  The entire staff got to enjoy the “State of the Company” address as a jump start and then two great speakers, an awards ceremony, and a virtual trade show.   

We also make sure to do things on site as well. For instance, we hold lunches and games to encourage camaraderie and show our appreciation for all our properties. I try to do little things along the way personally for my staff to make sure they know how much I value them. All these things foster a positive company culture.

So when it comes to employee turnover, we need to focus our efforts to ensure that our staff has access to ongoing training, the ability to advance their careers, and especially feel that they are a valued part of the team.

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

Don’t be hard on the people, be hard on the problem.

Kathy Woodard

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