The Multifamily Worker Shortage Playbook: 13 Strategies for Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement

With a record-shattering 10 million jobs available in the U.S. economy, multifamily employers are far from alone as they struggle to find the right people to fill open roles.

The Multifamily Worker Shortage Playbook: 13 Strategies for Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement
Meet the panelists

With a record-shattering 10 million jobs available in the U.S. economy, multifamily employers are far from alone as they struggle to find the right people to fill open roles.

"There's always been a talent war [in multifamily], but now there's a whole new dimension to it," says Gina Lemon, VP of Human Resources at Timberland Partners. 

Innovators at heart, HappyCoers suspected a little creativity could help operators turn the tide. Ali McCormack, Director of Talent Acquisition at Pegasus Residential, agreed. As she puts it: "Everything is moving so fast and nobody knows what's going on, so you have to be willing to try what is necessary." 

HappyCo is here to help. After speaking with McCormack and Lemon, two work culture trendsetters, we're excited to offer multifamily leaders a roadmap to navigate the multifamily worker shortage: 13 industry-specific strategies to recruit and retain top talent. 

Hiring the best people...

1) Develop relationships with technical colleges that can help you recruit.

  • Central to its Talent Acquisition strategy: Pegasus proactively reaches out to technical colleges near their communities to forge relationships with career centers and advertise open maintenance roles.
Pegasus Residential

2) Create internship opportunities to build a talent base for your multifamily recruiting.

  • Pegasus recently launched an internship program that gives promising technical college grads the chance to work at a Pegasus property on a path toward a full-time offer. 
  • Timberland Partners has also created a maintenance internship program and recently made full-time offers to 5 of its 6 debut interns.
Timberland Partners

3) Motivate your entire company to be part of your recruiting strategy.

  • Pegasus has established a partnership with Indeed, but also offers current employees $500 per successful referral as an alternative recruiting strategy. 
  • When HR posts a new role on Instagram or Facebook, they encourage team members to share the post from their personal accounts.
Pegasus Residential

4) "Work your in-person recruiting magic."

  • Timberland Partners posts open roles on Linkedin, Indeed, etc, and also encourages hiring managers to hand out "you impress me" cards to people doing a great job in customer-facing roles — retail, hospitals, banks, etc.
Timberland Partners

5) Attract new hires by offering a lifestyle advantage.

  • Timberland Partners has started providing (and advertising) a high-deductible, team-member only healthcare plan with no premium taken from employee paychecks.
  • Against a backdrop of appealing unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, Timberland Partners also ups the ante by offering rent discounts and is reviewing benefit plans to grow more flexible on issues like PTO and unpaid leave.
  • When Timberland Partners recently won an award as a Top Workplace, it posted about the milestone on social media to shed light on its positive culture for potential candidates.
Timberland Partners

6) Sweeten employee salaries with unexpected perks.

  • Pegasus provides a sign-on bonus that's paid partly upfront and partly after the multifamily employee has been working for 90 days.
  • Another aspect of its multifamily talent acquisition strategy: offering a car allowance, cell phone cost coverage, and a free tool belt for maintenance employees that can be costly.

Keeping the best people...

7) Incentivize staff to onboard new employees successfully.

  • To pave the way for successful employee onboardings, Timberland Partners offers special mentor bonuses.
  • If a mentor successfully on-boards a new maintenance tech through a 90-day training process, they are given a bonus for effectively helping the Timberland Partners team grow.
Timberland Partners

8) Hone in on communication, from on-site staff through the leadership team.

  • Pegasus started a new communication cadence of daily huddles that span on-site staff through the leadership team.
  • Team members discuss the top 3 tasks of their day and any obstacles they face.
  • On-site crews know their roadblocks bubble up to leadership, so they feel heard and valued when those challenges are addressed from the top. As a result, employee productivity and morale see a major boost.
Timberland Partners

9) Structure job titles so that everybody has the chance to grow.

  • Pegasus has started creating multifamily job titles that give hard-working team members the chance to advance. "If there isn't a position available above them, we'll make it up; we've added district managers, area vice presidents, and other roles just to retain talented staff."
  • And, when team members earn these promotions, the company showcases their advancement in a newsletter and on Linkedin.
  • On the career development front, McCormack stresses: "when the market changes, you've got to change with it."
Pegasus Residential

10) Retain employees by making "bad bosses better."

  • Timberland Partners's senior leadership team recently made culture and performance improvements based on 1,000 comments that poured in from team members through annual engagement surveys.
  • Leaders were transparent about those results and created annual goals accordingly.
Pegasus Residential

11) Match competing offers for your top talent.

  • When top-performing team members approach Timberland Partners with competing offers, the company works hard to assess the situation. If they feel a team member has the potential for a long career with Timberland Partners, they may offer a higher bid to stay.
Pegasus Residential

12) Motivate staff with memorable public praise.

  • Pegasus finds that "people appreciate being respected, heard, and valued more than ever. So, our CEO is very good at making the core values matter all the way through the organization."
  • Among other ways to motivate employees, team members get cards and gift baskets on their birthdays and congratulations shoutouts for big accomplishments.
  • Employee engagement was certainly the driving force behind the company's playful take on television: a monthly, company-wide "Pegasus Live" program that celebrates the successes of team members across the company. Short videos highlight a specific staff member milestone.
Pegasus Residential

13) Encourage creative thinking. 

  • In McCormack's view, Pegasus is a place where there's "no red tape on the idea front. If you have an idea, bring it to table and if it fails, it fails. Our CEO has set the tone that she always wants people to think outside the box, experiment, and learn from the results."

A few extra resources

P.S. We'll be covering the eviction moratorium and other key housing market issues soon, so stay tuned for another info-rich piece in the coming weeks!

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Glennis Markison
About the Author
Glennis Markison
Senior Content & Webinar Producer

Glennis is a writer/producer from San Francisco. Taking the city’s trains and buses with riders of all ages and backgrounds inspired Glennis to go into journalism and share people’s stories for a living. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2013, she worked at CBS San Francisco as a program coordinator, public affairs producer, and ultimately full-time news writer for the KPIX 5 Morning News. She’s excited to enter the bustling startup world and tell HappyCo’s stories across channels.

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