Employee stress is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing today’s employers.
Job stress is estimated to cost American companies more than $300 billion a year, with significant impact on the cost of health care, sick days, and loss in productivity.
Consider these statistics on the cost of workplace stress, provided by The American Institute of Stress:
- 40% of job turnover is due to stress.
- Healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.
- Job stress is the source of more health complaints than financial or family problems.
I’m stressed out just reading those stats!
Those data points come from workers in all industries, not just apartment community teams. While I don’t have specific data on just how stressed out property management people are, I’d be willing to bet it’s even more dire. After all, we’re responsible for the management of our residents’ homes, which is a 24/7/365 job – and not an easy one at that!
It’s safe to say there will always be more tasks to complete than time in the day to tackle them, high-maintenance residents and prospect, and co-worker conflict to contend with at your community. But, there are practices that property management leaders can put in place that can help reduce both the occurrence and the subsequent cost of workplace stress.
Is it as easy as calling in the “stress busters”? No.
Give some of these stress-reducing habits a try:
Take a Walk
The most effective stress reducer known to man is exercise. And you have the best place ever to go for a walk – your community!
- When a team member is showing signs of strain, send them out to inspect the property, pick up trash, or just be visible and friendly with your residents.
- Encourage associates to use the community fitness center during their lunch hour. Don’t have a gym to use? Encourage your employees to organize group walks over the course of the work day.
- There’s no need to walk for miles and hours. Simply getting out for 10 minutes to “get some fresh air and the blood flowing” can reduce anxiety significantly.
Make sure to offer the decaffeinated coffee or tea options in your break room or leasing office lobby. There’s no need to stoke an already burning blaze, and caffeine can do just that! Encourage your team members to choose decaf or switch to decaf after their morning fuel.
Be a Force for Good
Be that leader who is generous in words and deeds. A simple “job well done” goes incredibly far. Be encouraging, positive, supportive and you’ll soon find associates who will walk on hot coals if asked. (Please don’t ask them to do this. Your residents have already demanded enough of them!)
Brighten People’s Lives
Yes, works and actions are important, but work environments are equally so. Try to create inviting spaces and encourage associates to personalize their work area. If you work on site, you likely have a well-appointed clubhouse designed for your residents to enjoy; encourage your associates to take advantage of this pleasant environment for a short respite when they need a moment to regroup. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Let Them Unplug
Give people the opportunity to unplug every now and then. Working 8-9 hours to an agenda will burn out even the most committed, most mentally tough, employee. Consider a short break an investment, not lost productivity.
Balancing work and personal life can cause feelings of helplessness, which is the main culprit when it comes to stress. Be as flexible as possible with your team members.
- If possible, allow them to work remotely on occasion, or set hours that help with child care or a difficult commute.
- Extended office hours can help accommodate employees, and they’re a win for your residents as well. Again, giving associates the opportunity to take better control of their lives can only make them feel better… about themselves and their work.
Respect their Time
It can be easy to make the mistake of feeling that what’s important to you is important to others. Don’t be “that” manager. Respect your employees’ time. Meetings, for instance. Remember your last one? Did you really need to be there? How did that make you feel? Enough said!
Set Clear, Attainable Goals
Most employees know their role in an organization—they know what they were hired for. Unfortunately, many employees don’t know what’s expected of them in that role. Yes, their duties might be clear. But how, when and why they’re supposed to take care of those duties might be a mystery.
Make sure employees understand what’s expected of them so they aren’t stressing out about something that’s actually irrelevant to them.
Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
Back to the breakroom and decaf. Almost as deadly as too much caffeine is too much sugar. Encourage healthy snacking through both education and availability. Make sure they understand the benefits – physical and mental – of eating well, and if you provide food, consider nutritious options, not just pizza and pastries.
Give Them the Tools
Not having the tools needed to perform a task is hugely frustrating. And while the cost of properly equipping your employees – from laptops to paint sprayers to ergonomic chairs – may seem high, the cost of NOT doing so is even greater. Every job is easier, the saying goes, when one has the right tools. Every job is more enjoyable, too, and the performer of that job, more productive.
Give Them Freedom
As Steve Jobs famously said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Your associates are your greatest asset. You hired each to do a job. Give them the freedom to do it.
Let’s face it. Stress in the workplace comes with the territory for multifamily professionals. But as an on-site supervisor, you can take steps to mitigate stress among your team and create a culture that is supportive of both physical and mental health.
Sound simple? That’s because it is!