Retention strategies for key staff

Last week I talked about somewhat less direct methods of retaining key staff by looking at the internal management structure of the agency; this week I want to discuss in a bit more detail the financial aspects of staff retention by looking at income-related ways of keeping your Property Management (and for that matter, your sales team) with the firm in the longer term.

There are significant costs in turnover of staff members, from loss of continuity of the relationships they have with clients, through hiring and onboarding expenses, and these all have an impact on the bottom line and potentially on stability of your rent roll – and this is key to the value of the agency.

Some of what I’m mention is common sense, but let’s also look outside of our own industry at what works in other sectors which are in some way related to ours for ways to attract and retain high-performance Property Mangers


It’s a no-brainer I know, but it’s also essential for agencies to pay their staff competitively, which means principals or department heads need to review and adjust salaries regularly. Even if your agency can’t increase pay right now, look at whether you can provide other ways of doing this, such as bonuses. Don’t forget about improving other benefits either such as provision of laptops or paid parking.

Profit/share schemes

I’m guessing this one’s going to give some of the older principals apoplexy – if we look at other industries which have gone through similar challenges with staff retention, one of the methods they’ve used to improve retention is by way of bringing key people into the business as shareholders or by offering a portion of the profit from either the division or the portfolio.

Not only does this start to tune everyone into the impact of ensuring all fees are charged, the impact of lost managements, or lowering fees and other risk factors, but the mindset of the staff changes to being highly engaged with the business and not jumping ship just because they want a change of scene.

Long Term Incentives

Again, this is going to set some hearts fluttering – if we want to keep key personnel in a business long term, we might want to think about giving them a further financial incentive to stay. The system of LTIs has been in place within the Financial Services sector for years and the outcome is that they have team members who stay for many years longer than the average in the residential real estate sector.

Recognition and rewards systems

Every person wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. And in today’s work from home workforce, expressing your gratitude to your team can make an especially big impact. So thank your team members who go the extra mile and explain how their hard work helps the organization. Some agencies have set up formal rewards systems to incentivize great ideas and innovation, but you can institute internal recognition programs even if you have a small team or limited budget – I used to run a weekly- and monthly-star program with voting done by the staff, not me – didn’t cost a great deal in the scheme of things but the team loved the fact that they were being recognised by their peers.

Acknowledge milestones, no matter their size

Shine a light on notable achievements; say, when one of the team brings in a new listing or management, or has a birthday or reaches a work anniversary, grab the opportunity to mark the milestone together – it doesn’t have to be over the top, just a simple word of public praise goes a long way.

Additional benefits

Additional features of the workplace can make you stand out to as an employer of choice. Work related enhancements like flexible schedules, and work from home options (as separate from lockdowns and other stay-at-home orders) are the benefits that a lot of Property Manager value highly. In addition, about a third of the employees surveyed said paid parental leave is a big plus.

Training and development

As part of providing continuous feedback on performance, you can help employees identify areas for professional growth, such as the need to learn new skills. Upskilling is especially important today as technology continues to change how we work. When people upskill, they’re gaining new abilities and competencies as business requirements continue to evolve.

Make it a priority to invest in your teams professional development. Give them time to attend conferences – both virtual and in-person, provide reimbursement or pay for continuing education. And remember to have an effective succession plan in place – none of us like feeling stuck in a job with no vision for the future, and this is a highly effective method for advancing professional development and building leadership skills.

Wellness offerings

Keeping teams mentally and physically fit is just good business sense. In the 2 years since we entered this pandemic, leading businesses have focused on either implementing or improving their wellness offerings to help Property Managers feel supported and prioritize their well-being. Stress management programs, mental health days, time off for volunteering commitments and onsite yoga and fitness classes are just some of the initiatives I’ve seen, and I’m sure there are plenty more.