After two years of pandemic-induced uncertainty, community managers are feeling the brunt end of homeowner anxiety. That anxiety comes in the form of angry phone calls, emails, and texts circulating day and night. It’s crucial that leaders in association management are responding to this added stress and creating a culture that supports the mental health of their employees. Few organizations have been able to accomplish this quite like Spectrum Association Management in San Antonio, Texas.
“So much is put on the plate of a manager that burnout almost seems inevitable,” said Cameron Lange, who serves as the Vice President of Spectrum and the VP of Brand Development at their parent company, Orangebox Enterprises. “The structure that we’ve built of smaller portfolios and departmentalized services ensures that managers are only responsible for what is reasonable.”
“Our culture keeps our team here,” said Nicole Obiedo, President of Spectrum AM. “It’s easy for community and property management positions to feel like a thankless job, so we make sure we celebrate the wins.”
Spectrum Association Management has been a valued customer of CINC Systems since 2007, and their executive team serves as tremendous inspiration for organizations who wish to improve their people operations. Here’s how they deliver service to their employees in a manner that drives engagement, retention, and in turn, revenue.
Hybrid Schedules (Before ‘Hybrid’ was a Thing)
No one had heard a hybrid work schedule before the Pandemic, yet Spectrum had been implementing it all along. “We call it an Empowerment Plan, where we allot for a hybrid remote environment with flexibility based on the employees’ needs,” said Cameron. “A typical workday for an employee may be two hours at home in the morning, take the kids to school, come for the office for a bit, pick up the kids and have family time, and then head over to a board meeting in the evening. By offering this flexibility, we’ve seen less burnout and a better work-life balance.”
A hybrid and flex hour approach to work has practically become the norm across all industries. Allowing for this level of flexibility within community management may soon become an expectation amongst all managers.
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Driving culture within an organization comes from more than just a flexible work environment. When employees feel they are part of a mission that serves both the company and the community at large, it’s a win-win all around.
“We institute 40 MAD hours per employee on an annual basis,” said Nicole. “Whether they complete as a team or individually, this time is allotted to perform philanthropic actions across our community.” Every quarter, one of the teams at Spectrum visits a nursing home to coordinate fun social activities and simply serve as a person to talk to. “One of our internal values is to create good and bringing this value into our workspace is so important.”
Searching for the Best ODD Balls Out There
One may think it’s an insult to call someone an oddball at work, but the sentiment is the exact opposite at Spectrum. “We call each other ODD balls because it takes odd people to live in the industry and do the work we do,” said Nicole. Community management also requires hours outside of a traditional 9-5 setting, so implementing ODD hours is important to promote a healthy work life balance at Spectrum. “Our ODD hours offer flexible capabilities so that you can take time off when you’re working, say, three hours at night to manage a board meeting.”
The ODD ball energy is something that the team at Spectrum capitalizes on for recognition. “We provide the team the ability to offer ODD bucks. These are in $1 to $50 increments and can be given peer to peer or manager to co-worker. Once a month, employees can redeem their ODD bucks for gift cards or, once they have up to $100, they can redeem for an extra paid day off.”
The ODD balls at Spectrum know just how rough the average day in the industry can be, so they have ODD outlets to blow off steam and encourage one another. “We use a Facebook Group called the OI ODD Ball Insider, where we can post pics, highlight wins, showcase new team members and more.” While that sounds like a blast, we’d be remiss to mention that there is some rivalry within the group – football rivalry, that is.
Avoiding Burden and Burnout
At the end of the day, it’s employer policy that can make or break burnout levels. At Spectrum, the executive team ensures that employees have an appropriate set of properties in their portfolio that is reasonable to manage. “We’ve found that 5-8 communities per manager is appropriate for our people,” Cameron said. “We actually sold off our condo and townhome business because we were finding that the space created too much burnout on top of our single-family units.”
The average workday isn’t just about managing the day-to-day at Spectrum, either. “We have a SEED hour every day – Stop Everything Except Development. This hour features training time for employees to learn something that betters them in their career.” The education comes from a tool called Boardline Academy, which focuses on streamlined education based on job function and career path desires.
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The Result Speaks for Itself
Employee engagement is one of the metrics measured at Spectrum. In 2015 their engagement rate was 46%; as of today, the number is now at 92%. Through continuing education, a flexible work schedule, and activities designed to improve morale, it’s no wonder that Spectrum is one of the most successful companies in the industry.
If you’re interested in learning more about how burnout can arise within community management and how to reduce burnout through a People Operations model, take our assessment and review our E-book here.