Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: NMHC’s 2023 Annual Conference

On the second day of the National Multifamily Housing Council's 2023 Annual Meeting, several panels explored the importance of teamwork.

NMHC 2023 Annual Meeting

NMHC 2023 annual meeting. Image by Jordana Rothberg

One thing has been clear across every discussion in multifamily recently: We are in uncertain waters. With so many elements of the industry largely out of developers, investors and financiers’ control, firms are focusing on the few things they can keep a hand on. Building and maintain a strong team within the industry is one of the few things largely in a company’s control.

In a panel of CEOs at the National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2023 Annual Meeting, one of the key components of the discussion surrounded the importance of a strong team. Maria Banks, president & CEO of AMLI Management Co., said that her company focuses on investing in people. They have a motto: “A home for everyone.” This home extends beyond the residents signing leases in the firm’s properties. It means employees feel home working under the company as well.

Culture, culture, culture

Providing a home to employees does much more than increase productivity and positive workflow, as happy employees contribute more and enjoy doing so. It also means during times of strict cost-saving strategies and little funding that the increased costs that come with high turnover rates are minimized.

According to the panel, as CEOs, creating a culture that allows your team to thrive is crucial to retainment and satisfaction. “Culture is the glue, it is something you feel,” said Lili Dunn, president & CEO of Bell Partners, Inc. Culture does not just include overarching PTO days, flexible work policies, good insurance and well-rounded benefits. Culture means listening, the panel agreed.

Further, culture does not just encompass the larger structure of the firm; it is bred within specific teams as well as between colleagues working together both remotely as well as on-site. Each level of culture is crucial to retainment and is therefore crucial to the larger company.

Acquiring talent

While retaining employees is one thing, filling roles in the first place is another. In another panel at the NMHC conference, panelists discussed some of the issues the market has faced while trying to keep pace with the demand for multifamily homes. At the root of several of the issues developers and investors face, Dan Hull, president of construction at The NRP Group, said, is the labor shortage crisis.

“Labor challenges are the driver of so much inflation and supply chain challenges,” said Hull. He explained that there wasn’t a lack of supply of raw materials. Instead, there was a lack of labor available to harvest, package, deliver and receive those materials. Chronic labor issues are driving up construction and materials prices due to an overall lack of labor supply.

How did panelists say they are navigating the shortage of labor issues? Several said they are starting off early by reaching out and offering internships to colleges with construction and real estate programs. To get ahead of the younger talent pool companies are offering programs for recent high school and college graduates with full-time offers after the internship finishes. Building interest and excitement from the start could be one of the many ways to get much needed talent back into the industry.

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