REAL ESTATE NEWS

APARTMENT PROPERTY MANAGERS ARE BURNING OUT FROM THE PANDEMIC

Published on Tuesday, December 14, 2021

J Turner Research reported that the average tenure has shortened to 19.2 months and that community reputations are suffering.

 

Manager turnover has never been more pronounced in the apartment industry as the past 18 months as many professionals have faced increased workload with little to no appreciation, a lack of hazard pay or overall compensation and a deluge of communication from the corporate office.

This has had a negative impact on revenue at communities of all types and in most parts of the country. 

The average tenure of today’s apartment community manager stands at 19.2 months, according to research by J Turner Research and presented at the second annual J Turner Research Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz.

J Turner Research in association with ALN Data Services analyzed data from 38,000+ communities to better understand the impact of manager tenure on a property’s performance over three years. 

Manager Turnover Damages Reputations

The number of times a property manager changes over a three-year period shows a direct correlation to the average Online Reputation Assessment (ORA) score of the subject properties. The ORA score is an aggregate compilation of a property’s ratings across various review sites and ILSs. 

Each month, J Turner Research monitors the online ratings of more than 128,000 properties nationwide. Using a statistical model, a single score based on a scale of 0 to 100 is assigned to each property. This score serves as a benchmark to compare a company’s individual properties and portfolios nationally, regionally, and against the competition

Communities Suffer from Repeat Manager Departures

With one manager change in 36 months, there is a slight increase in ORA score. If there has been more than one incidence of turnover in the property manager position onsite, the average ORA score shows a reduction. The more often a property experiences manager turnover, the lower the average ORA score is for the respective property.

A review of the ALN Data Services and J Turner national manager tenure data that studied the geographic impact found that the longest manager tenure were the coastal northeast states. Western states such as Utah, Colorado and Montana, show the highest rates of manager turnover.

Difference in Handling Pandemic 

Last year, during the pandemic, J Turner Research conducted an employee morale study to determine the effects the pandemic had on the multifamily personnel’s morale and company loyalty. The study drew participation from over 6,100 employees. Seventy percent of respondents were onsite team members, including property managers, maintenance professionals, and leasing consultants.

The key findings were that there was a 24% differential between the onsite teams and executives' rating of their satisfaction with their company’s handling of the pandemic. The disconnect decreased when comparing onsite teams and regional managers/vice presidents–there was a 13% difference between the rating given by these two management levels. 

What Could Have Been Done Better

Onsite team members were asked to answer this open question; “Please provide any comments/thoughts on the industry’s handling of the pandemic such as what your company could have done better, what were some successes and challenges?” These common themes emerged:

Lack of Adequate Compensation/Hazard Pay: Many respondents from the onsite group echoed not being adequately compensated or not receiving hazard pay for working additional hours or putting their lives in danger. They complained of reduced bonuses and expressed the need for more paid time off. 

Increased Workload, No Appreciation: Another recurring sentiment was increased workload due to staffing shortages, not getting any days off, additional responsibilities of virtual leasing such as making videos of the community, and increased reporting and zoom meetings. Respondents expressed that the senior management did not understand their stress as “front line workers,” and they did not show any support or flexibility for team members with children. 

Communication Deluge: Onsite team members felt overwhelmed by a deluge of emails and constantly changing rules and policies in response to the pandemic. They expressed being on the receiving end from residents both in online reviews and in face-to-face interactions due to the delay from the corporate in outlining the policies regarding opening of the amenities