3 Tools to Fight Burnout in Property Management
30% of Property Managers leave the industry due to stress and burnout.
Property Managers spend an average of only nine months in each role…something’s wrong with this picture.
Losing staff is one of the biggest pain points real estate businesses experience. If it happens suddenly it can often throw their operations into chaos, with other staff having to take on the extra burden, and service levels often suffering as a result.
It’s a real Lose-Lose situation.
So how can we do better as an industry to support staff, and stop them being yet another statistic in the war against burnout in Property Management?
Is money the solution?
One obvious way to keep your Property Managers is to pay them more.
This is happening already; there has been a steady rise in the average salary that Property Managers can command.
While Seek.com puts the average PM salary between $65,000-$80,000, other recruitment websites are advertising average salaries of $110,000 with the an annual income rising to $150,000 for some Senior positions.
Regardless of the exact figure, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think that wages have risen rapidly recently.
But if throwing money at Property Managers fixed the problem, why are we still seeing so many leave the industry?
Not to mention many rent rolls already on fine margins, and the wage component makes up the vast majority of cost of running it.
Money is not the solution to solving the crisis of burnout in Property Management.
To be clear, we don’t blame any Property Managers for maximising their incomes and chasing higher wages.
If you’re working a job that is stressful and challenging it is completely understandable that you would want as much compensation as possible.
But there is a difference between rewarding your staff with pay rises in line with their contributions and experience, and having to pay above market price to retain/ attract PMs to your business.
Put simply, if the only reason why someone is working for you is that they are getting an extra $10,000 a year, what’s to stop them from jumping ship when another business offers them slightly more than you?
Money doesn’t buy you loyalty.
This is especially true with young people, who studies show place a higher value on job satisfaction and work/life balance than on their salary.
65% of Gen Z plan on leaving in their job for the next year, and many would be willing to take a pay cut for the right position, according in Australian and international studies.
Make their workload manageable
Another way to keep Property Managers in your business and stop them from leaving the industry is to prevent them from getting burnt out.
One way to achieve this is to make their workload more manageable.
At the moment, there are so many tasks that a Property Manager is responsible for, including repetitive admin tasks that on their own don’t take a vast amount of time, but cumulatively add up to a real burden on their workload.
Many in the real estate industry don’t see this as a problem. They fail to see the link between efficient workplaces and job satisfaction.
But the link is real.
“One of the problems in real estate is that a process that might only take 1 or 2 minutes is not seen as a problem, but there’s processes like that that we do 50 times a day …it adds up. And it also leads to decision fatigue.”
“A process that might only take 1 or 2 minutes is not seen as a problem, but there’s processes like that that we do 50 times a day …it adds up. And it also leads to decision fatigue.” Joel Davis – CIO of STAFFLINK
As we have previously discussed, decision fatigue leaves Property Managers feeling mentally and physically drained, more likely to make impulsive decisions, and struggle to weigh up the pros and cons of difficult choices.
So how can we better support Property Managers in managing their workload and avoid burnout and decision fatigue?
One way is to empower them with a working dashboard that gives them visibility over every task that is DUE today.
Because they don’t need to see a task that is due next week or next month, what they need to see is everything they need to do to finish on time today.
But it’s not just the Property Managers who need that visibility; their bosses also need to have that visibility.
Why? It’s not about performance management, it’s about giving them support. Knowing who needs extra resources, which of your Property Managers is under the pump and who is not.
Sometimes Property Managers legitimately have too much on their plate; it’s very rare that the work divides equally between portfolios.
If a Property Manager is suffering under an unmanageable workload and is not getting the support, or even acknowledgment, from their leadership team, why wouldn’t they start wondering if this job is the right fit?
Look, sometimes a Property Manager has to deal with urgent situations – there’s nothing you can do if a water main breaks on a Friday afternoon, but if your Property Managers are regularly staying back in the evenings to finish work, it is a clear sign that their workload is not manageable.
Make the role “holiday-proof”
Sometimes people think they need a new career when all they need is a holiday.
Holidays not only give you time to recharge your batteries but also give you something to look forward to. A sacred time when work should not even enter your mind.
In short, they can be a very effective tool in the fight against burnout in Property Management.
But many Property Managers worry about taking time off or find themselves thinking about the job when they are on holiday, and many get anxious at the thought of the mess that they will return to.
Property Managers are often protective of their portfolio, and many run them in a way that makes it hard for others to cover for them.
The key to making your business “holiday-proof” is to make it as simple as possible for one person to cover for another.
This can only be done if all your team are doing every process the exact same way.
Getting your team of Property Managers actually to do this is not the easiest thing, but as some owners found out, one way to get everyone on board is to sell is making their jobs “holiday-proof”.
If your team knows that you are taking their holidays seriously, they will be much more likely to stay with you. And if they get to have incredible, relaxing holidays, they are far less likely to get burnt out and leave the industry.
Support their professional growth
Most people know and accept that hard work is required to achieve something worthwhile.
We are happy to study hard to finish a Uni course or train hard for months to do a marathon.
If we have a goal and feel like we are growing, either professionally or personally, we are far more likely to put up with difficulty and challenges.
Likewise, for Property Managers, if they feel that they are advancing their career or developing new and useful skills, are far more likely to stay in the industry.
That’s why one of the best ways to support your Property Managers is to support their professional growth and be mentors for them.
But the Real Estate industry does not always have the best track record when focusing on the professional growth of Property Managers.
The on-the-job training can also leave a lot to be desired as well.
We spoke to one former Property Manager who said that rather than having mentors who guided her training; her experience was more like “..this is what I need to do, based on the fact that the owners are now angry at me.”
Not a great example of a professional mentor.
On the other hand, business owners who support their Property Managers’ growth see it as an investment that pays dividends.
One regional business which had struggled with staff retention for years – has turned around its fortune by relentlessly improving the role so that his Property Managers could see themselves in it long-term.
By making the workload of his staff far more manageable, owner Ainsley Driver “actually discovered that it made a huge difference. It started to make it fun. It started to turn it into a career because they weren’t coming back to 150 emails after they’d done X amount of inspections.”
“I actually found that they started spending more time on the things that they enjoyed, and they focused on relationships. It definitely revolutionised the way we do things.”
“Most of our PM’s now look at property management as a career. They’re also the top earners in our area. The other guys don’t even earn close to what our guys earn.”
Not a bad result in the war against burnout in Property Management.