5 Tips to Retain (and Attract) Affordable Housing Talent

The traditional workforce landscape we once knew has seen a complete overhaul over the past few years, thanks in large part to the pandemic, which demonstrated that many jobs can be done well remotely.

Employees have voluntarily quit their jobs in record numbers in a movement called The Great Resignation. In fact, 2021 saw an average of four million U.S. workers quitting per month—a record high for the last two decades.

And, with 40 percent of workers reporting that they might leave their current job in the next three to six months, now is a critical time for organizations to identify what they can do to help attract and retain talent. Here are five tips:

1. Develop an Exceptional Onboarding Process

All of the excitement that a new employee typically feels when starting a new job can be quickly snuffed out if they show up to work and their first impression is less than stellar. Unfortunately, an underwhelming first day is all too common. Research from Gallup finds that only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their employer does a great job of onboarding. To combat this, recognize that onboarding goes beyond filling out the required paperwork and giving a tour of the facilities. This is the time to prove that everything you sold your candidates on during the interview process is true; you want them to feel confident in their decision to work at your organization.

To help achieve this:

  • Schedule new hires to meet with at least one person from every department so they can better understand the organization at large.
  • Take the time to translate the information the new employee is absorbing so they know how it applies to their specific role.
  • Set expectations for milestones they should reach during their initial weeks and months on the job.
  • Help them understand how their role connects to what their team members are doing.
  • Provide mentorship and support and check in on their well-being.
  • Create a curriculum of online training courses tailored to their job responsibilities as another channel to help them absorb critical information. (Read our recent blog post for more tips for creating an engaging online training onboarding program.)

2. Prioritize Professional Development

Speaking of training, a recent global study from McKinsey & Company found that the number one reason people quit their full-time job in exchange for a new one was for career development and advancement. And LinkedIn reports that employees say the number one factor for having an excellent work culture is opportunities to learn and grow.

There are several ways you can prioritize professional development:

  • Encourage employees to register for an annual conference, either in-person or virtually. Invite them to take a step back from their day-to-day responsibilities and eliminate distractions to focus solely on learning.
  • Purchase a subscription to a learning management system, like HAI Group Online Training, to give your staff the flexibility of 24/7 on-demand access to a catalog of courses and certifications and to demonstrate your commitment to their professional growth.
  • Set up an internal shadow program to expose employees to other responsibilities outside their department. Cross-training creates a more well-rounded employee, and it can pique interest in different positions an employee might not have pictured for themselves and encourage them to apply for a new role. According to research from LinkedIn, companies that excel at internal mobility can retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, which is twice as long as organizations that struggle in this area.

3. Foster Strong Manager-Employee Relationships

Since studies show that the manager determines 70 percent of the variance in team engagement, it demonstrates how critical it is to have highly trained leaders going the extra mile. And while it’s one thing to combat record-high employees quitting, another phenomenon we’re facing is ‘quiet quitting,’ or rather being unengaged at the workplace, which a new study finds to be the case for at least 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Before an employee gets to the point of quiet quitting, be proactive by having managers schedule regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. Employees are three times more likely to be engaged in their roles if they receive daily feedback from a manager than those who receive feedback once a year or less. Use this time to listen to concerns and address any issues. Show genuine interest in their accomplishments and how they impact the company. Ensure that they’re continuing to learn and grow in their role. Check in on their well-being and re-prioritize responsibilities if you find them overwhelmed. And encourage employees to use their vacation time; requesting time off should not be something anybody feels guilty about.

4. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

After millions of employees experienced life outside of the constrictions of a traditional 9 to 5 job during the pandemic, it forever changed the workforce landscape. According to a 2022 survey, 58 percent of U.S. job holders – 92 million people – reported that they could work remotely at least one day per week. (This figure includes blue-collar and white-collar jobs across all economic sectors.) And in this same survey, 87 percent of all job holders offered the option to work remotely took advantage of this opportunity.

Of course, not every job allows for such flexibility; however, it is important to identify which positions allow for remote work and to try to find a way to incorporate some level of a remote working arrangement if it fits within your company culture. In fact, a study from Gallup finds that managers and leaders prefer hybrid work models over going full-remote as a happy medium. It offers employees more autonomy to dictate work-life balance without losing critical face-to-face time that managers and teams need to stay connected and maintain a sense of company culture.

5. Have Clear Standards in Place for Promotions

With career growth being a highly prioritized factor in employee well-being, companies should clearly communicate to staff what it takes to reach the next level in their career—before they start looking elsewhere.

Encourage managers to have conversations with their staff at the start of each year regarding long-term aspirations to help them develop a career development roadmap. Openly discuss what opportunities are available for upward growth or whether there are lateral moves they can make to other departments to achieve their goals. To assist with these efforts, make it a standard practice to share open positions in an internal communication to learn what is available. And when an employee is promoted, share this news in your company newsletter or on your social media channels, which can encourage staff to see success stories within the organization.

Having a robust onboarding program, a culture that supports continuing education, clear expectations for managers, and supporting proactive career development conversations will give you a leg up when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about resources to help your employees with career development, check out HAI Group Online Training, offering 24/7 on-demand access to over 100 courses and certifications for multifamily affordable housing professionals.

Includes copyrighted material from a company under the HAI Group family, with its permission. This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, and shall not be relied on as such. We strongly recommend consulting with legal counsel or an appropriate subject matter expert.

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