Student Housing Business

JUL-AUG 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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QUESTION OF THE MONTH July/August 2018 StudentHousingBusiness.com 28 Unemployment numbers are falling by the month and it has already been difficult to find employees with student housing experience to fill needed roles. Have you seen an impact on turnover at the property level over the past several months? What are you doing as a company to keep your property-level personnel onboard, engaged and committed? Turnover is certainly increasing at the property level. The level of competition among operators for talent has evolved to the major league level. We see an increasing level of job offers accepted, and ultimately the candi- date rescinds the acceptance because of counter-offers with their current employer. Job fluidity is high with lots of opportunities for mobile staff. Thanks to our size, we can offer growth positions throughout our portfolio which is a big advantage for our team. Scott Duckett Campus Advantage We have adapted technology that allows us to connect better with our property-level staff. Microsoft Teams and Skype allow for video conferenc- ing. Additionally, we have an internal social media tool called Yammer that helps us to share successes and create daily engagement. Annually, our CAmmy Awards have been incredible for engagement with our property-level team members. We have thousands of nominations for the various award categories and we live stream our black-tie award ceremony, complete with card and envelope announcements of the winners. Jennifer Cassidy Campus Advantage We can celebrate the U.S. economy roaring into over- drive — indeed most economists are predicting con- tinuing drops in the unemployment rate not seen in decades. There is much to be thankful for, but this has impacted all businesses including student housing owners as we increasingly compete for fewer profes- sionals familiar with the unique operating characteris- tics of our business. This impacts us on existing proper- ties as well as new development properties — indeed, this is magnified with all of the construction trades. Campus Apartments, like many of our peers, spends a great deal of time focused on hiring, training and developing our team — and yet in this economy some team members look to leave as they find opportunities with other firms looking for tal- ented professionals. What must be done to retain your team? You must go well beyond the basics (competitive salary, measurable bonuses and excellent benefits) and develop a culture that is attractive for individuals from varied backgrounds. Leadership needs to imbue in all of their team members a family-based culture that actively develops and encourages an esprit de corps! Competition, performance, training — these too are essential aspects of an excellent team — but the camaraderie of a band of diverse people focused on achieving results while enjoying each other is in our opinion the key to the loyalty of our team where we have indi- viduals who have been with the Campus Apartments family for 10, 20, 30 years. Are we worried about the continuing pressure on employment and wages? Yes — but we're also convinced that we'll continue to find diverse people with unique backgrounds who want to prove themselves in a distinctive real estate operating platform like student housing. Miles H. Orth, III Campus Apartments At Cardinal Group, we recognize that our team mem- bers have more opportunities than ever inside and out- side of the industry. It certainly makes it a challenge to not only retain talented individuals but ensure we have the right fit for our property-level roles. In order to avoid the 'warm-body' hiring practice (where you push the first person you can find into a position), we are facilitating more programs where our current team members are personally involved in their own goals and growth. This has led to higher engage- ment and a strong connection with our #WeAreCardinal company culture. In some ways, we are excited about these market conditions as companies that have strong culture and rec- ognition programs thrive. As five time winner of "Best Place to Work," including the only student housing company in the 2018 Multifamily Best Place to Work — we are excited to see our culture attract and keep top talent. Scott Montgomery Cardinal Group Management While this time of year is always a challenge with students moving on to other careers after graduation, the leasing season, and summer turn, we continue to lead with our most important asset — our culture. Savvy, experienced candidates know they are valu- able, and occasionally we see them shopping for the best place to further their career. For ACH, the culture and opportunities speak to them as they are leverag- ing their experience to find the right home to learn and grow within the industry. We continually provide career enhancing opportunities to our teams, in the form of both ongoing educational avenues and posi- tion advancement, which in turn fortifies our collective relationships and mutual respect. As the teams continually feel our commitment to them, they in turn deepen their commitment to our firm. Julie Bonnin Asset Campus Housing I wouldn't say that it has affected our turnover — but I would say that we have definitely seen a tightening in the market as relates to filling any open positions we may have at any given time. American Campus Communities has always taken pride in the quality of employees that make up our team nationwide. Our core values are central to our company culture, with #5 being 'Pursue Growth.' This core value is at the root of the incredible amount of time and energy that is focused on employee development at every level of the organization. We have an annual mentoring program, Inside Track, that was developed in 2003 to identify tal- ent at our properties and engage them in an immersive training program to ensure we are always investing in our people. It's a cultural responsi- bility at American Campus Communities to invest in one another be it a direct report, a colleague, or someone you are riding with in the elevator. Genuine personal relationships are key to employee retention, and they usually transcend any volatility in staffing that may affect our industry. Lonnie Ledbetter American Campus Communities Thanks to the sustained growth of our development and third-party management pipelines, we continue to experience the same recruiting challenges as our indus- try colleagues. Most of our (albeit limited) property- level turnover has stemmed from competitive head- hunting of our trained teams. We drive engagement and retention by investing heavily in our teams, with a focus on training and cultural buy-in. There's no silver bullet here, it takes a shared commitment from all levels to actually live by our values, but the result is that most folks we lose are also folks who are less- committed to our mission and values. James B. Whitley Landmark Properties, Inc.

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