Category: Blog Roll

3 Multifamily Learning and Development Trends (and Recommendations) for 2021

While 2020 was a year full of unexpected challenges, 2021 is primed to usher in a period of hope, evolution, and innovation. After gaining a year’s worth of experience in responding to constant change, both individuals and businesses are becoming more adept at flexing their “adaptability” muscles. With that in mind, here are 3 multifamily learning and development trends and recommendations for 2021.

1. Change, change, and more change…

We now have a glimmer of light as the world begins to catch up with the challenges the pandemic presented. However, we still need to adapt to shifts in COVID-19 mandates and other legislative policies that will impact both residents and how we in the multifamily industry continue to adapt and perform. For multifamily learning and development, this means:

Supporting change management initiatives to deliver timely communication and training: Properties that can quickly communicate and implement policy changes and process adjustments will see immediate benefits. As policies and SOPs continue to evolve and are often different regionally, we can turn to unpolished “quick-hits” to communicate topics that may have a short shelf-life. Examples of these “quick-hits” items that can do the job in a pinch include job aids, informal YouTube-style video communications, just-in-time webinars, and simple resources/documentation.

Quickly providing just-in-time skills training: The above also applies to skills-specific training. In a time of constant change, ‘imperfect’ solutions and support presented now are better than ‘perfect’ solutions that come too late.

Creating long-term training for critical thinking and problem-solving: 2020 put a huge spotlight on the value of adaptability. We can cross all our fingers and toes that we don’t see another year like it, but there are lasting benefits in training our teams to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to adapt to unexpected circumstances. The most effective way of doing this is to teach these skills and provide ample, no-risk opportunities to practice them in role-specific and context-relevant scenarios.

2. Technology remains center stage.

As we continue to navigate the path forward, both leasing professional and properties will continue to use some of the newly adopted technologies that were thrust upon them in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For multifamily learning and development teams, this means:

Providing more formalized training with new technologies: When the pandemic first hit, many of us may have experienced the “sink or swim” method of learning new technologies. At this point, most of our teams can perform basic functions with video-conferencing, customer management, and other applications that help us connect with and manage both our teammates and customers.

Many properties will decide to keep some of these technologies and practices post-pandemic. The next step is learning how to use them well, within each person’s respective job functions, and with a focus on both efficiency and effectiveness.

For example, your leasing professionals may know technically how to perform a virtual tour, but are they consistently doing it in an engaging manner? Do they use all the features at their disposal to show the best of your community and to personalize the tour to the customer’s specific needs?

Exploring and adopting new technology to support performance: Prior to and during the pandemic, many properties began to adopt AI technologies to support their leasing efforts. As we move forward, these technologies are becoming more accessible and affordable. Exploring AI technologies can help offset employee workloads and streamline team processes (e.g. AI to support phone and internet inquiries). They can also provide virtual practice opportunities to further refine and improve sales and customer service skills (e.g. AI video assessments). Increasingly, multifamily learning and development teams across many industries are using AI tools to support and supplement skills-based training.

3. Creative engagement wins first place.

Our usual ways of connecting with colleagues and customers have been turned upside down. While some of us have experienced a graceful transition, others will continue to need additional support. Those who transition well and quickly will see immediate benefits and can serve as great role models for others. For multifamily learning and development, this means:

Training our employees to connect in novel and innovative ways: Leasing professionals who have thrived by creating personal connections in a face-to-face environment may struggle in a new virtual-based environment. The technology itself is only the first challenge.

For example, your teams may excel in identifying customer needs and providing solutions during a tour, but can they nurture the lead in the same way in a virtual or hybrid environment? You cannot count on these skills to come naturally. Providing additional training to help on-site teams transition with role-based, context-relevant scenarios can work wonders.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion stay in the spotlight. DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiatives gained steam in 2020 and continue to grow into 2021. For multifamily learning and development, this means:

Supporting DEI initiatives with continued awareness, training, and communication: Core DEI training along with supporting initiatives will help communities communicate the value of diversity to both leasing professionals and residents.

The fundamentals still apply. The world will continue to evolve, but the basic principles of learning and performance improvement remain the same. True change occurs through time, with one small step leading to the next. Leading learning and development programs will remain focused on performance improvement and create a continuous learning experience with many opportunities for practice, repetition, and coaching between formal training sessions.

About the Author. Lan Lam, Chief Learning Innovation Officer for Edge2Learn. Lan has spent the last 20 years educating, engaging, motivating, and connecting with learners. Her career has been built around helping organizations to transform their learning and performance solutions into leading programs that leverage technology and keep pace with the shifting needs of modern learners.

Lan holds a Master’s Degree in Instructional Systems Design and Technology and is most passionate about creating innovative and effective learner experiences. Lan became part of Edge2Learn with a vision that anticipates the future potential of learning and technology. Her approach is anchored by proven learning and cognitive processing methodologies and her expertise is drawn from decades of collaborative efforts with forward-thinking clients spanning various industries.

About Edge2Learn. Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

How Does President Biden’s Executive Order Affect the Housing Industry?

At Edge2Learn, we strive to keep multifamily industry partners advised of evolving changes in our industry.  Recently, President Biden has issued an Executive Order on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies.  Clark Hill, who provides the course content for Edge2Learn’s Fair Housing, Sexual Harassment and Diversity and Inclusion courses shares insights on this Executive Order.

How Does President Biden’s Executive Order Affect the Housing Industry?

On January 26, 2021, President Biden issued a Memorandum for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) titled, “Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies”.

HUD must take all necessary steps as soon as practicable to examine the effects of the August 7, 2020 Rule during President Trump’s Administration entitled, “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice”.

President Biden further directed HUD as soon as practicable to examine the effects of the September 24, 2020 Final Rule during President Trump’s Administration entitled “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard. ‘(September 2020, Final Rule).
 


Disparate Impact Analysis

It appears the Executive Order will support the reinstatement of the disparate impact analysis that focuses on housing and mortgage lending practices that may have excluded and resulted in a disproportionate negative impact on people of color, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

The heart of the disparate impact standard under the Biden Administration will likely include the identification of targeting zoning, tax credit allocation, land use laws, and housing restrictions that function to unfairly exclude or disproportionately affect those in protected classes (race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, familial status) within certain neighborhoods and communities without sufficient justification.

The disparate impact standard under the Biden Administration will also likely scrutinize arbitrary and discriminatory ordinances and unconscious prejudices that bar the construction of certain types of housing units.
 



​​​​​​What Can You Do Now?

To the extent possible, communities are encouraged to assess their housing policies and practices to ensure they are not discriminatory and ensure they are proactively in compliance with the objectives above in order to decrease the chances of close scrutiny or penalties from appropriate federal agencies for violations of Fair Housing.

While there is not currently a federal law requiring that LGBTQ+ individuals be treated equally, the Biden Administration has made clear an intent to focus on that requirement and as a result new legislation may ultimately be imposed. While courts will be left to interpret the Fair Housing Act, Executive Orders create additional requirements of varying standards for enforceability.

​​​​At this time, the best advice is to review policies and explore how to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals are not discriminated against. Accommodating such groups should not lead to additional liability, but failing to do so may certainly lead to claims in the future as this area of the law evolves.

At Edge2Learn, although our courses state to treat everyone equally and fairly, do not place yourself or company in a vulnerable position just because the current definition of protected classes does not include sexual orientation and gender identity.  Review company Fair Housing policies and consider revisions in preparation for the likelihood of adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

7 Tips for Effective Employee Onboarding

As we move into 2021, we’re seeing a staggering number of job openings in the multifamily industry which creates a need for effective employee onboarding practices. The changes in policies and procedures brought about by the pandemic have created new needs and some new responsibilities to manage, which need to be considered as new people are brought onboard your team. How can you ensure new team members hit the ground running? By using our tips for effective employee onboarding.

First, let’s discuss the differences between onboarding and orientation.  

Orientation

  • General Focus: Employee’s role within the company
  • Duration: One-time event
  • Setting: Classroom or online
  • Content: General company overview
  • Outcome: Prepares the new employees to start working and take job-specific training

Onboarding

  • General Focus: Employee’s specific role in his or her department
  • Duration: Ongoing (could last for a few months)
  • Setting: On-the-job
  • Content: Specific to each new employee
  • Outcome: Prepares the new employee to be productive in his or her role

There are 3 main goals for a new person or someone in a new position:

  1. Get up to speed with the job role.
  2. Contribute quickly to the overall team effort.
  3. Get them to feel connected.

Try these 7 tips for effective employee onboarding to help get yourself up to speed as a new employee.

  1. Get in Sync with Your Boss. Make sure you’re on the same page as your immediate supervisor. Ask for some dedicated one-on-one time to ensure you both have the same focus and goals.
  2. Reach Out to Stakeholders. Make a list of internal customers – the people within the organization who influence the work that comes your way and can affect the quality of your work. Once you’ve identified the stakeholders, ask for their contact information so you can reach out and have a brief conversation with each to understand their expectations.
  3. Get a Read on Company Culture. Observe the team to get an understanding of the company culture so you can work to fit the dynamic.
  4. Connect with Co-Workers. Invite the team to connect virtually for a cup of coffee or even lunch to get to know others on a deeper, more personal level.
  5. Understand How Your Team Communicates. Identify the platform your team uses primarily to communicate so you can remain informed as well as be heard.
  6. Set Clear Expectations If You are Managing a Team. Let your team know what you expect from them regarding communication, accountability, productivity, availability, and engagement.
  7. Pursue Online Learning Opportunities. Let your boss know you will be looking for additional ways to grow and develop and that you want to continue your learning.

When you’re helping to onboard a new employee who reports directly to you, you can similarly use these 7 tips for effective employee onboarding.

  1. Getting in Sync. Think of what you wish someone had told you and then pass that on to your employee. Give them the “inside track” to help them to be more successful.
  2. Stakeholders. Let the employee know who the stakeholders are. Give them a heads-up about who they can expect to hear from within the company and how to handle.
  3. Corporate Culture. Give your employee an idea of what the company culture is like and invite them to participate.
  4. Connection. Help the new employee connect with others; introduce them to the team and arrange and be present for a virtual meeting.
  5. Communication.  Reach out to involve the new employee in communication. Consider a virtual team meeting.
  6. Expectations. Take the first step in starting a conversation about expectations and be thorough.
  7. Learning Opportunities.  Create a dialogue to find out where the employee wants to go or what they want to learn next and help them to get there.

When you are the one onboarding, be sure to be assertive and advocate for yourself. When you are in charge of onboarding an employee, make it a priority to communicate clearly and thoroughly and help the new employee to feel welcome and connected! Using these tips for effective onboarding will help you and your new employees get off to a great start.

Click here to access additional COVID-19 Multifamily Training Resources

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Contributed by:

Susan Weston
President, The Susan Weston Company

Susan Weston operates The Susan Weston Company, her consulting and training firm located in Dallas, Texas. She brings to her clients her 30-year career as Vice President of Operations, Director of Human Resources and Vice President of Learning and Development at both publicly traded and private companies. Her operational and strategic expertise brings value for both asset performance and talent development. She also served as Director of Education for the National Apartment Association and earned the prestigious ACE award for educational excellence from NAAEI in 2009. She continues as an NAAEI Faculty and Board Member and volunteers at local and state apartment associations. Over the last five years, she has presented scores of programs at associations and companies across the nation. Currently providing training and development support at Alpha-Barnes Real Estate Services. She is Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas School of Business teaching both Residential Property Management and Advanced Residential Property Management courses.


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

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