Building a Strong and Healthy Workplace Culture

By Jay Madary

If you look at it narrowly, companies that own and manage apartment communities have a pretty obvious set of goals. They want to operate properties that attract and retain residents and maximize returns to investors.

To accomplish those goals, multifamily companies have to create world-class workplace cultures that emphasize taking great care of associates and giving back to the communities in which they operate. While creating such an environment has practical benefits – such as making it easier to attract and retain quality team members – more importantly it’s simply the right thing to do.

Below are some of the fundamental elements of a strong corporate culture.

• An emphasis on career development. Associates want to work for a company they believe is committed to their professional and personal growth. This is one reason it is crucial for multifamily companies to invest extensively in the training and development of team members.

On-the-job coaching, mentorship programs, customized learning curriculums, e-learning platforms and tuition reimbursement for college are just some of the ways companies can help their associates realize their full potential and move up the company ladder.

• A commitment to philanthropy. At JVM Realty, we have a set of 25 fundamentals that make up the JVM Way. One of those fundamentals is “contribute to the community.” The American Red Cross, Marklund Home and The Alzheimer’s Association are just some of the organizations our company and associates have supported in various ways over the years. 

A corporate gift matching program, through which a company matches its associates’ charitable donations, is an extremely powerful way for companies to give back to the community and to empower associates to support the organizations and causes that mean the most to them. Another effective method is to give team members time off to perform volunteer work that does not count against their vacation time.

• Open communication. It’s almost impossible to overstate how important this is to a healthy and well-functioning workplace. A company’s leadership team has to be transparent with associates about what is going on in the firm and what is expected of associates.

Relatedly, associates have to feel they are working in an environment in which they are free to offer constructive, honest feedback and propose new ideas. Two of the other JVM fundamentals are “speak straight” and “be relentless about continuous improvement.” These phrases emphasize to associates that we want them to offer suggestions for improvement and feel invested in moving our company forward.

• Promote a balanced perspective. Owning and operating apartment communities is serious and demanding work. The pace and stress of the jobs can be overwhelming at times. So multifamily firms need to help team members keep perspective. 

Remind associates that the world has bigger problems than the daily challenges that make up our work. Encourage them to celebrate success and remind them to keep things fun – two more JVM fundamentals. 

Consider implementing employee wellness programs and make sure the calendar has events like office happy hours and group volunteer outings to give associates a chance to unwind and enjoy each other’s company.

At JVM, creating and maintaining an outstanding workplace culture has always been one of our primary goals, and I’m proud to say the Multifamily Leadership Innovation Summit recently named us one of the Best Places to Work in Multifamily for the fourth year in a row.

In the end, being an apartment owner and operator is not only about taking care of our residents and investors. It’s also about creating a culture where our associates are fully supported, and it’s about acting as responsible corporate citizens in every way.

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