Last modified on August 30th, 2023
By Brittany Benz
The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming all industries, including property management. No longer just limited to chatbots and digital leasing assistants, AI has the potential to streamline workflows, automate routine processes, and create a better, more fulfilling employee experience. In this article, we’ll explore how AI can help you level up your hiring and retention strategy.
1.) Boosts employee satisfaction through meaningful work
Today’s property management employees spend a lot of their time on busywork, which can negatively impact performance and satisfaction, leading to burnout. According to the 2023 AppFolio Hiring and Retention Report, an average of 15 hours per week can be optimized or streamlined through technology. That number jumps to 18 hours per week among employees of companies with at least 10,000 units under management.
Additionally, 69% of leadership and 55% of employees wish they had more time to focus on higher-value tasks. Not surprisingly, unsatisfied employees report slightly more busywork than satisfied employees (37% vs. 35%) but see much more room for technology to optimize or streamline their roles (20 hours per week vs. 14).
AI can automate tedious, manual tasks like data entry and free teams to focus on meaningful work like customer service and business growth. It can also empower them to be self-sufficient and get the answers to questions beyond their role. Lauren Niziol, Recruitment Director and HR Advisor at Red Cedar Advisory Services, an HR consulting and recruiting firm for property management, expands on the potential AI has to dramatically improve the employee experience:
“Property management is a 24/7 job, and certain seasons can burn people out, leading to a lot of churn. Anytime you can make processes easier and give people back time, it’s a win-win. And with AI, I think it will help reduce burnout and make the job less stressful.”
When teams are not bogged down by the mundane, they feel more satisfied, as they can work on what they are truly passionate about, like building relationships with renters and owners. They also have more space to grow their careers by learning new skill sets — something that has become increasingly invaluable. Based on the 2023 AppFolio Employee Experience Report, 74% of property management professionals reported that having opportunities for career growth is important to them. By embracing AI, you can unlock those opportunities in a new way, Lauren shares:
“Having technology tools like AI shows that as a property management business, you are invested in your employees. That you value their time and energy and want them to have the bandwidth to grow their careers.”
2.) Streamlines and simplifies onboarding
Onboarding new employees is very time-consuming and when not done consistently can lead to human error, poor productivity, and frustration. According to research from the NAA, only 12% of employees say their organization does a great job onboarding employees.
AI can ensure every new hire follows the same training steps for their role, speeding up the onboarding process and reducing friction and inaccuracies. Since AI can handle tedious and manual parts of the job, employees can devote the time they would have needed to spend learning manual entry tasks to learning more advanced skills that can have a bigger impact on the business and accelerate their career path.
Property management software powered by AI can also help new employees ramp into their roles much more effectively. For instance, a new hire could ask a conversational interface for information or to complete a task directly rather than spending time muddling through navigation or asking a colleague for help.
3.) Increases team productivity
One of the most common fears property management professionals cite around AI hesitancy is that it could negatively impact their teams. And while certain manual, repetitive tasks can be automated by AI, that doesn’t mean AI has to replace roles altogether. AI works as an extension of your team, helping them achieve more with less. Lauren shares:
“AI won’t replace you. It will improve your capabilities. One thing about the property management industry is there are a lot of opportunities for advancement. So when you have a tool to use to be more productive, it benefits you in the long run. Maybe you’re an entry-level leasing agent and you use AI to field all of your incoming leads; now you can focus on closing the most serious leads and helping the business reach its goals, which over time will help you accelerate your career advancement.”
When team members can outsource repetitive tasks and focus on high-value work, they are ultimately more productive. A 2023 National Bureau of Economic Research Study found that AI increases employee productivity by 14%, with the most significant increases being found in the performance of less experienced workers. Additionally, a 2023 Goldman Sachs Study found that AI technology could boost labor productivity growth and global GDP by as much as 7% over time.
From responding to prospective renters to processing maintenance requests, there are so many manual day-to-day tasks you can automate and streamline with the latest AI technology like AppFolio Realm, the suite of AI-powered capabilities in AppFolio Property Manager. Here are just a few ways it boosts operational efficiency and productivity across key workflows:
Marketing and leasing
- AI Leasing Assistant, Lisa: responds to every lead in a thoughtful, personable manner and automatically schedules showings no matter the time of day
- Marketing Descriptions: auto-generates detailed descriptions for your properties and individual units to post on your website and third-party listing sites
- FolioGuard™ Smart Ensure: automatically helps ensure that units with an insurance requirement have coverage, starting from the day a resident moves in
- Smart Maintenance: Uses automation to intake maintenance requests from residents and convert them into work orders, which are instantly dispatched to pre-approved vendors.
Accounting and reporting
- Smart Bill Entry: reads PDF invoices, identifies key information, and automatically enters what you need into AppFolio
- Bank Feed: automates the fee collection process to eliminate busywork and keeps your books consistent and accurate
4.) Attracts the next generation of employees
The next generation of employees prefers to use the latest technology in their daily lives and careers — so much so that it could make or break your ability to attract top-tier talent. In fact, nearly 90% of property management professionals agree that technology makes their job easier, and just over two-thirds say they prefer to work for a company that adopts the latest technology. However, property management companies are not measuring up: Nearly one-third of employees reported they are not satisfied with the technology available for them to do their jobs.
If you don’t offer AI and digital ways for employees to work more efficiently, you could lose great team members to your competition or an entirely new industry. According to Dror Poleg, an economic historian and best-selling author, “Technology is now becoming table stakes. Having the best tools in place in terms of property management is now basic. You must be able to do that.”
This sentiment is also shared by Co-Founder of Pelican Property Management, Jordan Levine:
“The current workforce does not want to be in the business of data entry. People strive to be efficient and to solve the real problems they face, and our future workforce is going to be looking for AI to complete simple, day-to-day tasks.”
Along with attracting existing property management professionals, AI can also help you to cast a wider net in the talent pool and recruit individuals from other hospitality industries who possess the soft skills required for property management. Lauren Niziol shares:
“AI in property management not only offers opportunities for new talent but can also empower existing employees to enhance their performance. For instance, if someone has the right qualities but lacks skills such as email composure, interpreting reports, or navigating technology, then AI can fill those skill gaps and increase their abilities.”
AI-driven tools and software can automate mundane tasks and free teams to focus on performing higher-value work and expanding their skill set — all of which can greatly improve the employee experience. By taking advantage of AI technologies, property managers can not only retain their top performers but also attract the next generation of workers.