Finding qualified candidates to fill job opportunities in community association management has been a challenge in recent years, more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some management company executives have shifted their hiring strategy to address shortages by looking for individuals with relevant experience outside the management profession and reevaluating work arrangements and existing benefits.
“We’ve been fortunate to be able to staff our needs and keep our managers at a workload that’s manageable while growing (operations),” says Jeffrey S. Hunt, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, president and general manager of Hunt Management Inc., AAMC, in the Milwaukee area. “But the problem in bringing in additional associations is that I need somebody to manage them.”
Community management can be a good fit for individuals with varying knowledge, skills, and qualifications and who are at different stages in their career. Some management companies and association boards may prefer candidates with the necessary experience to perform their work, but 42% of CEOs and recruitment staff surveyed by the Foundation for Community Association Research say they look for both inexperienced and experienced candidates as part of their hiring strategy, according to Attracting Talent to the Community Association Management Industry.
Kirk Gassen, CMCA, AMS, CEO of Gassen Company, AAMC, in Eden Prairie, Minn., says his company’s hiring strategy is to look for people with customer service experience. “At the end of the day, we’re really a customer service company working in the community association industry. The better we can take care of our clients from a customer service perspective, the higher our client retention is,” which also leads to higher manager retention, he notes.
Increasing benefits is one way that Gassen aims to attract new managers, based on their motivations for being in the profession. “It makes sense to pay well to keep staff, but we also understand that higher pay is not everyone’s motivation,” he says. Gassen tries to find employees’ motivation and compensate them that way, such as with additional time off.
In addition, Gassen transitioned his company to a hybrid work model; community managers were able to work remotely part-time before the pandemic. “Managers have to come (to the office) once a week, and then they can come in whenever they want as long as they’re performing at the level that we need,” he adds.
The COVID-19 pandemic also allowed Hunt to reevaluate work arrangements, providing more flexibility for community managers and staff to complete their tasks remotely while maintaining their usual level of service and team collaboration. “Work-life balance is more important than ever, and if working remotely contributes positively to attracting and retaining qualified, service-minded managers, I am all for it,” he says.
>>Read more about efforts to recruit and retain community managers in “Working the Problem,” from the November/December 2021 issue of CAI’s Common Ground magazine.