How to reduce staff turnover by creating a positive workplace

Block management isn't for everyone. The real estate industry faces unique challenges in hiring and retaining staff, resulting in an annual turnover of 27.8%. Nearly three in ten block managers will leave their jobs in the next year alone. And it's no surprise when many suffer from demanding workloads and low compensation. How can we combat this? We spoke to Nigel Glen, Non-Executive Director, Emeria, Shelley Jacobs, Operations Director, Michael Laurie Magar, and Martin Perry, Director, West of England Estates Management, about addressing these challenges and maintaining staff wellbeing.

The importance of good leadership

Employees don’t leave businesses; they leave managers. Fortunately, “leadership is a skill that can be learnt,” says Shelley Jacobs. Training courses aimed at block managers can help develop and improve your ability to lead and motivate staff.


One of the keys to leadership is examining your personal views and how they affect your management style. Consider how you make decisions and your approach to things such as fairness, unconscious bias, feedback, and empathy.

To get the best out of staff and build trust, demonstrate understanding. Good leaders support and praise their staff while providing constructive feedback when something can be improved. In a nutshell, says Martin Perry, “a good working environment and appropriate support are absolutely critical.”

The need for training

Younger employees may move between companies looking for the best experience, while those with more experience may be happier to stay in an organisation long-term if they feel they are treated well.

Ensuring your employees have the right skills to advance can encourage loyalty, especially if they see a career path at the company. Pair your less-experienced and better-established colleagues so that they can learn from each other. 

Those new to the industry can benefit from the wealth of knowledge those with more experience can impart, says Nigel Glen: “It’s wonderful when someone can say, I’ve come across this before, and this is how it panned out last time.”

New technologies and roles are being introduced to block management as a result of the UK’s net-zero targets for residential property, as well as the increased focus on building safety brought by the Building Safety Bill. The jobs of managing agents are becoming more diverse, and training must support this to provide them with the skills and expertise they need to succeed.

The importance of flexibility

Hybrid and flexible working has increasingly become a must-have for many workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while employers take advantage of a digital workforce that lets them access talent from across the industry, no matter the location. Flexible hours may particularly be sought after by people with responsibility for children or relatives who need their work to fit around their obligations.

Hybrid working does pose some challenges. It requires structure to ensure time is managed efficiently and teams are staying on track. It may also make it difficult to train new employees who need more office time to build relationships and learn the ropes. You shouldn’t let this put you off offering it, however. Organisations that don’t offer flexibility may get left behind as workers choose to go where they feel supported. 

Offering the right incentives

Emphasis on mental health and employee well-being is increasing. When people can choose between the office or home, making the workplace a positive and fulfilling place has become more important than ever.

A few simple benefits can contribute to this. Consider introducing items such as gym memberships, gift cards, cycle-to-work schemes, and office fruit deliveries. Try to offer choices so employees less keen on a gym membership, for example, have something more appropriate to their interests.  But be warned: all the incentives in the world won’t convince employees to stay if they feel overworked and undervalued.

This is an extract from an hour-long webinar we held with Shelley, Nigel and Martin to discuss staff retention, management agreements and contractor relationships. For the full discussion, watch our webinar recording, The future of block management: Assessing management agreements, leadership, and contractors or download our free guide, How to retain staff and beat block management industry turnover rates.

Stuart Armstrong, Senior Copywriter at Fixflo, the market-leading repairs and maintenance management software

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