8 Ways to Lift your Staff Morale
As we close the books on 2022, we find ourselves in turbulent political, economic and business times.
We’ve been through something awful with the pandemic. If morale has slipped in your property management company, it’s not surprising and it’s not the end of the world.
No one said business was easy, so it’s not a fail. It’s really a signal that you must improve your company culture. You might only lack some insight and a process to turn it all around.
Plenty of companies put big effort into designing and building a better company culture. The best business owners find ways to empower staff/contractors to build confidence, spirit and leverage team problem solving capabilities.
Let’s explore the direct and indirect benefits for your proper management business.
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” — Denis Waitley, Author.
Low Morale is a Symptom Not the Cause
Low morale is a signal that something’s wrong in your business. Whatever you’re doing right now doesn’t seem to be working. The quest is to understand what staff need to be fully engaged and then how to inspire them.
“Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing.” -Phil Jackson
Real Causes of Low Morale
- company culture is blah, not quite was expected or wanted (what specifically is wrong, or is employee just feeling unwanted and unappreciated?)
- dull work or not performing meaningful work (can we redesign their work role? New tasks, new software, new projects?)
- work is too difficult (employee may lack training, education, resources, or perhaps the challenge was greater than understood; what additional training or resources are needed?)
- not achieving expected contribution or outcomes (find out what’s preventing this person from achieving; perhaps the wrong metrics are being used to judge value delivered)
- low pay and doesn’t look like it will get better (offer performance bonuses or raise pay? how can we improve profitability, or does the employee need to move to more affordable region?)
- believe company isn’t competitive, is going in wrong direction or failing (what do they think the right direction is, or what is competitive enough?)
- conflicts with other workers (what is the cause of the incompatibility, or is it frustration that’s taking them away from their normal behavior?)
- stagnancy and bad work/life balance (get them to communicate their issues and negotiate some changes, encourage remote workers to get life balance and stay active and connected)
- no professional growth (offer exposure to other work processes and employees, enroll in training courses)
- dead end industry/company (employee may not see the real potential; communicate; discuss new business opportunities and challenge them to research and find better)
There are resolutions for every problem.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson — Positive Philosophy from the Bottom Up
The best way to keep everyone happy is to use a system that empowers from the bottom up, by design.
A bottom up framework empowers your property management staff to create drive, engagement, and energy. With this modern approach, they feel more empowered and not limited by, or threatened by the company.
As long as the business vision is clear, they should align happily to it.
Each worker has their own cognitive and emotional limits. It’s not fair to say someone can’t do it, but rather that they don’t know how to do it, don’t have permission, don’t have needed resources, or aren’t up to the challenge emotionally right now.
A morale boosting strategy is actually the best way to get workers to solve problems themselves so you never need to micromanage.
Buffer the Negativity
Besides providing support, one of the best ways to maintain morale is to build buffer zones to misery. This may be the number one reason why wealthy people are happier, more content, and can manage business better. They’re removed from friction. Your staff and tenants however may not have that fortunate buffer.
Using positive words is a technique that makes negativity less likely. You’ll likely discover that as morale improves, so does the vocabulary of your staff and tenants.
Gurus will talk about knowledge and management skills as a way to resolve issues and induce positivity. But band aid techniques don’t get at the source. Tackling things hand-to-hand can be exhausting and requires personal strength. If you’ve ever tried to keep everyone happy, you know how that goes.
A broader strategy of creating a positive mood could work better. When people feel good, they can handle anything the world throws at them. What if you help staff build their own “happy place” so they can handle their challenges themselves.
One example of this is letting employees work from home. Not long ago, this was considered bad practice. It was a surprise when research showed improved productivity from home, better access to talent, not to mention hiring or keeping employees that would never have been attracted before. Work from home has helped them keep employees happy, reduce employee’s costs, and more work was done. A negative turned positive.
8 Keys to Supporting Strong Company Morale
One employer of mine brought in a foozball table as a perk for staff. But that game novelty actually turned into an elite competition room and created tension and alienation among staff. Some of the boosting tactics are more or less cheap tricks that become an extension of the current situation. Better to improve things, then bring in a game table.
Morale building strategy has to come from the heart with a sincere belief that your company is a good workplace with real benefits.
Check out these 8 components of a strong strategy to build stress free enjoyment of working in your company:
1. Building the Company Vision
Communicate the business vision and purpose clearly, which provides a focal point especially for your staff (don’t fear ridicule, instead listen to the real meaning of worker’s opinions).
A clear focus inspires them and gives their efforts positive meaning. For tenants too, your commitment to a great tenant experience and keeping costs down shows you care and respect them.
Ask some of your tenants how they interpret your messaging and how it sounds. Ask employees how they feel about your company’s status, strengths and weaknesses. You can deal with misperceptions, address weaknesses, clarify, and enjoy the benefits of open communication.
“Disney’s success has come from the power of its vision. A company’s success depends on having a solid vision for the future — and employing an engaged team that is dedicated to making that vision a reality. A clear vision statement keeps everyone on the same page. ” — from post on Entrepreneur.com
2. Express Appreciation
Whether in person or through your property management software platform, respect and express gratitude for all the people helping you build your business, regardless of performance, role, or pay scale. By expressing gratitude, you’re actually validating the value of working for you. And after expressing appreciation, the employee will be more open to ideas on change or improvement.
Tenants and owners too need a dopamine boost from being appreciated. This goes back to the “team” feeling of being part of a great business. This blends into how they feel about your company brand which colors their entire tenancy. Appreciation opens the doors to better communication which enables good moods and keeps tenants leased.
3. Support Career Development
Career stagnation is a big issue, particularly for high performance employees. The demands of the digital business world are overwhelming, which means employees likely don’t know where they’re going or what they need to improve.
It might be wise to discuss future needs with staff, and gauge how they feel about possibilities. Honesty and transparency are best. People are smart and they will fill their career/role voids with education and development. Adopt a more mindful approach in communicating about this, because it may take a while to find the right path and make the right decisions.
4. Use Technology to Ease Workloads
Workloads are likely the top stressor, so why not adopt a property management software to automate and simplify work tasks? From accounting to payment collection to scheduling maintenance, they’ll appreciate less of that tedium.
And with digital systems, workers often capture a kind of buffer zone, and avoid jarring situations that could result in staff departures and ended leases with tenants.
5. Promote work/life Balance.
Many workers don’t know how to create work/life balance. They actually need training and education to manage today’s blended schedules. Those who commute are likely in the worst situation because of a lack of free time. Talking about work/life balance frequently and casually keeps it fresh in their minds. Keep an open mind and ear, so they can let them you know what their issues are.
Even if you can’t do much to change things, you can at least be compassionate and give them time off to ease their pain. Encourage personal savings, long vacations and mini-vacations so they can keep fresh.
Work at home has its stresses too. Working and living 24×7 in one location can be depressing for many people.
Work/life balance affects work quality, workplace safety, and how long staff will stay. Attending property management conferences and trade shows in a distant city is one such opportunity to build commitment to their work and give them a break from the grind.
Staff may not feel empowered to build work/life balance, so it might be wise to help them find guidance.
6. Improve Team Culture
Culture is just a style of communication. Encourage helping each other so that value can be transferred throughout your business. Individual workers have minimal power to create big value. They get that power from the other staff in a collective effort. Your leasing, marketing, customer service team need to be sharing information about tenants, the market, and properties. Staff will begin to collect more on their own in order to share it with the team.
Encourage communication with a purpose. The goal is to serve tenants better and find ways to improve profitability which should help them earn more. ManageCasa can be a great property management platform for achieving all of these goals, especially if your team is virtual.
7. Build More Activities Together
Take staff out for lunch at a restaurant with a great view where everyone can speak and be seen (no loud music or too busy). To appreciate the experience of a restaurant, sports event, company picnic, or building party, people need to be able to speak and hear each other and casually engage in whatever they like to discuss. It’s a chance to help staff relax and that should be the priority. Relaxation makes people open up to engaging with others and being open to learning. Stress, expectations and practices often go the other direction.
Fun including parties can be used as a tool to diffuse tension and get your business running efficiently and energize your staff.
8. Rally Around Growth
The most depressing thing for staff is watching inflation eat away their earnings, just like it does for you. By embracing growth in your property portfolio, you might reassure them and be able to raise their pay. And you’re going to reach better efficiencies of scale and achieve profit goals and sustainable success. Your property management system will help you scale up. Automate and put the workload on your software.
By now you realize how boosting morale could generate big dividends for your company, cutting losses and increasing revenues. It could outperform any other business activity you’re involved with.
If you need to improve many aspects of your property management business, you might even consider hiring a property management consultant. The benefits of a third party perspective and guidance could generate value for your company for many decades ahead.
Here’s a few more resources to help you build a morale improvement strategy:
Tips for property management companies for staffing, setting property management goals, and many more property management tips.
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