Community Association Living

The lack of engagement between homeowners and their HOA boards is continuously cited as a top concern in driving meaningful change in community association management. And as Millennials grow older and Gen Zers enter homeownership, the problem seems to only get worse.

There’s a new crop of middle-aged Millennials capturing the single family home market, and management company executives are noticing a troubling trend. These middle-agers are not jumping at the chance to become a board member of their homeowners associations at the same speed that their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts did. At CINC, we’re heavily researching this topic to bring valuable insight to our clients in the fall through a refresh of our infamous Managing to the Generations report. In the meantime, though, we want to provide some ideas to you so that you can consider new ways to drive board participation among younger generations.

Think Bluey

Watch one episode of The Jetsons and one episode of Bluey and you’ll notice a remarkable difference in the traditional family. The days of the dad working and the mom staying at home tending to her kids are over. Millennial dads are spending on average 300% more time with their children than past generations, and that involvement cascades into a far greater emphasis on family values for men. This means that when community managers work with their boards to plan family functions, they shouldn’t rely on the traditional mommy-and-me approach. Consider evening and weekend events to accommodate busy work schedules, and ensure that you’re soliciting feedback from dads just as much as you are from moms. Let fathers who are expressing interest in neighborhood involvement know that being part of an association board means you can be intimately involved in family-friendly events, rulings, and digital enlightenment.

Focus on local outreach

Our Managing to the Generations report shows that Gen Z homeowners are more interested in community outreach than any past generation. This means that philanthropic ventures are incredibly important to Gen Zers, and boards should be regularly looking at ways to support their local neighbors. Whether it’s volunteering at a local homeless shelter or soliciting help for a neighbor in need, local outreach projects should be a top priority in association newsletters. Community managers can cite our research to emphasize this importance and help their current board members develop ideas to generate more outreach within their association.

Keep meetings flexible

We’re all incredibly busy, especially working parents of younger children. Because of this, a volunteer position on an association’s board likely seems impossible for many younger homeowners. That’s why flexibility and virtual engagement is key. Virtual board meetings for both the board and the association as a whole will certainly increase engagement for prospective board members, as they will understand that they don’t have to be physically present all the time to be part of the board. It’s also important to keep meetings short and sweet. Community managers can coach boards to keep meetings shorter by providing agenda templates that can be sent out prior to a meeting, creating concrete objectives for each meeting agenda item, and cutting short time for feedback and questions.

Engage digitally

Millennials invented social media, and Gen Zers haven’t lived in a world without a smartphone. So modernized digital engagement is key to driving homeowner engagement overall. Tools such as our HOAst survey capabilities are incredibly important for this reason. You can use this polling functionality to have fun with the neighbors, voting for the best holiday decor, best-looking lawn, and so forth. Community managers should encourage their boards to take advantage of this technology beyond the yearly board elections – it’s not only modern, but it’s fun, too!

Manage everything mobile first

Finally, it’s critical that all homeowners are able to complete everything through their mobile device. From amenities booking to board invoice approvals, homeowners and board members need to be able to engage in their communities with the tap of a thumb. Ensure that your boards are regularly promoting their mobile app, booking tools, e-voting tools, and more.

For a more thorough review of all the mobile tools you should be using to get younger generations engaged as a board, check out our product tour to see where you can take more advantage!


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