Blog Article

Dealing with labour shortages: Why property management companies must adapt to remain competitive

Wednesday 16 February 2022

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While we’re well on our way to a post-Covid world, it’s important to consider that full recovery is a long way to go, and learning to adapt is crucial during this time of transition.

The pandemic led to a mass shutdown of businesses worldwide, and while lockdowns have eased in Australia, job vacancies have surged across the country. Different industries are still affected by the labour shortages due to Covid-19 and it’s likely to have a lasting impact on Australians. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that job openings increased by 18.5% from September to November 2021, indicating that there is a high demand for staff, and that businesses are struggling to find talent.

Closing international borders and implementing statewide lockdowns also exacerbated staff shortages in Australia due to the limited access between employers and potential talent. The Australian workforce relied heavily on international staff before the pandemic, welcoming a diverse and extensive skill set and allowing people to come and go from anywhere in the world without hindrance. Even with borders reopening, however, many people are still reluctant to commit to long commutes and travel for work as the situation may still change without warning. 

The property management industry has been hit hard by labour shortages as well, leaving many of us questioning when (if ever) our local and international workforce will be back to full strength. Property management companies used to be able to rely on a diverse and inclusive workforce before the pandemic, and the road to a post-pandemic world has only put more pressure on the labour that remains. 

Property managers are also dealing with multiple stressors; aside from an increase of tasks and responsibilities due to the staffing shortage, property managers also need to deal with anxious landlords and tenants that are in financial distress due to Covid-19. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Ltd (REIV) has implemented initiatives to support property managers in fulfilling their roles during this chaotic time.

Will the “great resignation” hit the property management industry? 

The “great resignation” was a phrase coined in the U.S. to describe the phenomenon where millions of people, from frontline workers to senior executives, resigned from their jobs in the wake of Covid-19. It’s a mass movement that is starting to show in Australia as well, impacting different industries and sectors.

Traditionally, employees choose a workplace based on the salary, career opportunities, culture and offered benefits. Now, employees are consciously looking for companies that can enrich their lifestyle outside of work, so that their jobs don’t add unnecessary stress to their personal lives. In the wake of Covid-19, workers are more proactive in maintaining a healthy work-life balance so that they can focus on important commitments (e.g. parenthood, socialising, health) outside of their full-time jobs.

This fundamental shift in perspective is affecting the property management workforce as well. 

Once people resign, it’s becoming more difficult to replace them. Finding new talent is hard, with more than 30% of residential property managers leaving their jobs in 2021. 

As the “great resignation” continues to impact Australian businesses, property management companies need to consider how they can provide value to their employees, given that the current workforce is looking for more than “just a job”. Property managers have the challenging task of handling landlords, tenants and suppliers, on top of their internal tasks within the company. Having clear processes and efficient AI systems can prevent your staff from feeling overly stressed and burnt out. 

Strong executive leadership will also enable you to understand your staff’s needs and the challenges they’re facing, allowing you to find solutions that can increase their work satisfaction and motivation to stay with your company.

Why property managers are leaving the industry 

Property managers handle the operations, maintenance and administration of property rentals for an owner or landlord. Their responsibilities will vary depending on the type of property, but property managers need to ensure that a rental meets the expectations of the owner, whether it’s hitting a financial goal or maintaining the living conditions. 

The most common responsibilities of a property manager include:

  • Finding new tenants

  • Handling complaints

  • Setting, collecting and adjusting rental rates

  • Property maintenance

  • Enforcing landlord-tenant laws

Property managers have a significant workload, and most of their daily tasks are often time-consuming yet return little reward (i.e. sourcing available trades, managing rental records, etc.). 

The most common issues that property managers have to deal with on a daily basis include:

  • Disruptive phone calls - Property managers are regularly interrupted with unplanned phone calls consisting of 15-minutes of complaints, troubleshooting or repair planning. When this happens several times a day it can disrupt their workflow and focus.

  • Outdated systems - Property managers can find it difficult to collect, organise and track information, especially if they’re utilising multiple systems to upload data and double-handle data input.

  • Maintenance - If a property manager is handling multiple properties, they need to divide their attention between speaking to tenants, guiding tenants through the processes, troubleshooting and answering the same questions multiple times.

  • Addressing similar concerns - Property managers need to field numerous emails and phone calls from tenants with similar concerns, such as their lease, rates, etc. 

  • Burnout - Property managers are constantly “putting out fires” to ensure that a rental is running smoothly, which can lead to high levels of stress and mental health issues.

Given the magnitude of the role, it’s no wonder property managers are looking for the exit. It stands to reason that they want to escape an industry of mundane, repetitive administrative tasks that should have been automated years ago. 

Businesses in other industries stand out because they offer roles that ensure their staff have enriching professional lives. Property managers that have resigned would rather build a new career in a different industry entirely, and thanks to the significant labour shortage, companies in other industries are happy to take them due to their customer problem solving skills - and upskill them in other qualifications where necessary.

It’s important to add value to your business processes so that it addresses your employees’ desire for less stress and smoother transitions. If one property manager has the option of choosing from ten roles, they will go for the position that is set up for success and enables them to jumpstart their career. To attract and keep the best talent, you need to be the company offering that desired lifestyle opportunity.

What property management companies can do to change

It is possible to make the changes you need to attract and keep skilled employees. By making a change for the better you can increase efficiency and keep pace with the growing need for technologies to assist in streamlining and automating tasks. 

We’re not out of the woods yet. Understanding the current property management trends will allow you to prepare for the industry challenges and improve the overall experience your company provides for employees, landlords and tenants. Utilising creative technological solutions can serve dual purposes in addressing the job vacancies within your company and attracting new talent.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology can streamline operations and automate monotonous tasks, allowing property managers to focus on high-priority projects and mitigate unnecessary stressors. 

Tasks that can be automated with AI technology include:

  • Answering common questions from tenants

  • Sending announcements and reminders via emails

  • Processing maintenance requests

Because we live in a highly technological landscape, the younger generation of workers expects employers to operate in a modern setting and be digital-savvy. Young professionals in the property management industry are looking at how AI and automation technology is integrated into a company and what’s going to work in their favour. They’re driven to develop their careers, and they want to make sure that the gruelling administrative workload of the past is not something they have to face in their day-to-day work assignments. 

AI technology can help you maintain business continuity even in extraordinary circumstances (including the Covid-19 pandemic and the great resignation), as it reduces the need to hire additional staff while streamlining processes and implementing a proven, efficient system. At the same time, AI technology improves the work-life balance for your property managers, relieving them of the stress and pressure they already experience and allowing them to excel in big projects that feel rewarding and motivating.

Implementing a strong system backed by AI technology can propel your business upward even as the great resignation continues to make waves in Australia. Addressing your property managers’ pain points and stressors in the workplace with relevant tech-based solutions can improve their work satisfaction and give them the work-life balance they desire. 

If you’re ready to adapt and take charge of the “post-Covid” world, book a demo with the Rental Heroes team. We will guide you in innovating your operations to accommodate emerging technologies.

We’d love to discuss our property management services with you. Book a free introductory chat today with our National Sales Manager, Leanne Sorby: Meet Leanne


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