A Strong Office Culture: It's Critical to Multifamily Success

Posted on August 28, 2017

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Attributed to the renowned business consultant Peter Drucker, this famous quote underscores how a company must have a healthy corporate culture in order to thrive.

But you don’t need to take just Mr. Drucker’s word for it. More and more, the business world is filled with leaders and executives who have realized that to attract the best and brightest associates – particularly millennials and members of Generation Z – the right office culture must be in place.

Just consider the remarks of Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn: “Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. They are arguably our most important competitive advantage, and something that has grown to define us.” Also note that, according to one study, millennials would be willing to take a pay cut of $7,600 if their new employer provided a better work environment.

Simply, put a toxic office culture – one in which problems are allowed to fester and in which associates don’t feel supported and listened to – can lead to a seriously unhappy and unproductive workforce. And that, in turn, can torpedo the performance of a multifamily company’s portfolio. Unhappy leasing staffs are an express route to unhappy prospects and residents.

So what does a first-rate office culture look like? Here are some characteristics:

Open and compassionate

When multifamily associates know they can go to company management with any problem – big or small – that helps foster an open, honest work environment, and lets your employees know you support them. And managers at companies with healthy cultures lead their associates and respond to their problems with compassion. Yes, oftentimes firm responses are called for, but we should always remember associates will make mistakes and are often dealing with important and difficult issues outside their jobs; let them know you recognize and understand that.

Promotes diversity and inclusion

Perhaps more than preceding generations, millennials and Gen Z’ers want to work for companies that reflect today’s society. And a serious commitment in this area does more than just attract new associates. Companies with a diverse workforce find that the richness of backgrounds, experiences and ideas truly strengthens them, allowing them to grow, adapt and respond to changes in the marketplace.

Fosters work/life balance

More than ever before, multifamily employees are concerned about work/life balance. Too many millennials and members of Generation Z have seen their parents burn out after devoting seemingly all their time and energy to their careers.

Obviously, you want team members who work hard and are passionate about their jobs. But apartment companies also have to provide associates with the bandwidth to maintain healthy personal and family lives. So, for starters, give your employees paid time off and encourage them to take it. Make appropriate accommodations for the needs of working parents. And don’t create a culture in which associates are expected to respond to email 24/7.

Supports development and promotions

Associates want to work for a company that invests in their growth. At ROSS, we encourage employees to take advantage of the more than 200 courses available to them through the Vision Learning Management System, and each quarter we give a gift card to the team member who completes the most courses in that period. Furthermore, we reimburse a portion of the tuition costs for college undergraduate and graduate courses.

Also, an apartment company should be clear from the very start of an employee’s tenure about the opportunities for advancement and what the associate needs to do to earn promotions. Knowing they will have the chance to grow and move up the corporate ladder will make employees more inclined to stay with your company for the long haul.

Practices corporate social responsibility

Today’s associates also want to work for companies that care about more than the bottom line: they want to work for companies that care about the world around them. Sixty-three percent of millennial women and 45 percent of millennial men say their decisions about job offers are impacted by an employer’s corporate social responsibility work, according to the Six-Month Research Update to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report.

When an apartment company engages in meaningful partnerships and efforts to improve the world around it, it gives its associates a chance to be a part of something larger than themselves – and that’s a very powerful and enriching feeling.

These are but a few components of a healthy work culture. The exciting conversations on this topic are bound to continue within the industry as more and more companies make a commitment to creating an environment in which associates can truly thrive. This is a critical undertaking, because the right culture creates happy, long-tenured associates – which will then lead to high-performing apartment communities.