Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent

4 Key Components that Impact Communication and Tone at Work

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent


One of the most important ingredients in any relationship is communication. This even extends into our business relationships with our supervisors, teammates, and customers. So much time and effort is saved when you are able to communicate effectively, and this, combined with appropriate tone, can go a long way towards strengthening your relationships. We’ll delve into four key components that impact communication and tone at work.

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Dr. D’s Vitamin E (Encouragement)

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent

The global pandemic has created a state of affairs filled with uncertainty, which has led to a sense of fear or dread for so many of us. Recent data collected from apartment mystery shops has shown a negative impact on how business is being conducted, particularly in terms of closing and asking for the sale. This is certainly a problem that requires urgent attention and one of the best ways to address it is with a double-dose of vitamin E (encouragement)! Read More

Addressing the Baby Elephants in the Leasing Conversation

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent, Sales & Leasing Techniques: Tips and Tools to Get the Sale


The idiom “the elephant in the room” often suggests there is an obvious and hefty issue or discussion point, yet no one involved in the conversation wants to confront it so they pretend it is not there. Unfortunately, there are large elephants lurking around in many leasing conversations that go unacknowledged. For example, our old friend “close the sale” continues to top the list as the most commonly missed question by leasing consultants. Out of 11,493 shopping reports conducted by Ellis during Second Quarter 2018, 50% of employees failed to ask this key question.

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5 Sales Steps to Give Customers the Whole Kit & Caboodle

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent, Sales & Leasing Techniques: Tips and Tools to Get the Sale


Who is our customer? What is the key to our success?  How can we improve leasing performance? Training directors are asking themselves these questions and many more as they focus on improving leasing performance because they understand that overall success primarily depends on how many customers are closed and how many of those are retained. While some are completely revamping their training programs, others are simply tweaking existing programs to improve the customer’s overall experience. With all the focus on Customer Experience (CX), it is easy to push the sales process aside, but we cannot forget that creating and managing the customer experience has to be by design – not by accident.
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A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.”

– Kevin Kruse

Employee engagement is a discretionary action. This means that employees go above and beyond not because they have to, but because they care about the company.

Key Employee Engagement Stats

  • 6% of American workers are engaged (Gallup 2016)
  • 25% of employees are highly engaged, 40% are moderately engaged (Aon Hewitt 2016)
  • 24% of employees worldwide are “actively disengaged” (Gallup 2016)
  • 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 16% are actively disengaged, 55% are not engaged (Gallup 2016)

People have great potential and can accomplish great things when they have the right coaching, tools, and leadership.

The Engagement Experience

Employee satisfaction is contractual and transactional. Once it is lost, the employee is usually either fired or the employee quits the job. Employee engagement is transformational rather than transactional. Employee engagement can never be bought; it must be earned.

So, what are the benefits of an engaged employee?

  1. Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. (Workplace Research Foundation)
  2. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. (Dale Carnegie)
  3. Companies who implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for those which receive no feedback. (Gallup)

Disengaged employees cost the United States $450 billion dollars. These employees call in sick more often, are more prone to injury, and increase the turnover rate.

The Most Important Factor That Drives Employee Engagement

“The problem is with your managers, not your employees. If your employees are disengaged, your managers are at fault.”

-Les McKeown, author and CEO of Predictable Success

The manager leads the team or group of employees. When the manager changes, the level of engagement of the employees change, even when the employees’ roles stays the same.

Three Types of Employees

The Rowers

These employees are actively engaged; they move the company forward. They are passionate and loyal. Their loyalty is to the mission, not a bonus or a paycheck.

The Sleepers

These employees are Rowers who do not have the proper leadership to move them forward. They make up 65% of the U.S. workforce. Although disengaged, they are neither negative or positive; they are in a neutral status. They will hang on for many years. However, Sleepers can weigh down the company and cause others to join this category. Management should connect and engage with Sleepers to bring them up to Rower status.

The Sinkers

Sinkers are pretty easy to spot. They are usually unhappy at work and will act out, however they can be productive when it comes to operation and customer service. In other words, they can do their job well, so their supervisors keep them around. The problem with Sinkers is that they are actively disengaged. This means they can bring the Rowers to Sleepers, or worse, Sinkers. Sinkers can be at this level due to bad leadership in the past. If you are not able to bring them up to Rower status, they need to be removed from the company.

Focus on the WHY

Choose to focus on the WHY of your company and its tasks rather than what they do. This is what makes companies like Apple great to work for.

Listen to Simon Sinek’s talk on this (Video)

  • Aim to be the manager that cares about the employees.
  • Check in with your employees.
  • Humanize your leaders (CEO, directors and managers).
  • Fully engage your employees.
  • Help your employees gain back time and work/life balance.

Great examples of companies that have amazing employee engagement include QuickenLoans Mortgage Services and Wegmans.

15 Ideas to Lift Your Boat

  1. Shorten feedback loops
  2. Write a note
  3. Send anniversary cards
  4. Create a community yearbook
  5. Connect with family/pets
  6. Employ “My Favorite Things”
  7. 5-minute desk chats
  8. Provide a lateral career map
  9. Weekly motivations
  10. Try “Grant-a-Wish”
  11. Ditch a task
  12. Trash the meeting
  13. Show & tell
  14. Have a month for mentoring
  15. Distraction jar

BONUS: Get rid of your Sinkers!

Increasing and maintaining employee engagement is an active skill. Choose to be aware and improve this area of your company; the apartment industry needs this!

Presented by: 

Maria Lawson, CAM, VP of Training and Development
Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS)

Creating a Positive Company Culture

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent No Comments

Creating a Positive Company CultureCompany culture is a hot topic right now as companies such as Facebook and Google are creating office spaces that promote collaboration, comfort, and an overall cool office vibe. Companies are competing to have the best, most appealing company culture to attract new talent and set them apart from their competitors. Employees are also considering culture as much as salary when accepting a new position. Creating a positive company culture is no longer optional. While ping pong tables, kegs, and napping pods are appealing, there’s much more to a great culture.

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Role Playing: Riding the Ginormous Elephant in the Training Room

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent No Comments

Riding the elephantRole playing has been used as a sales training tool for a many years, yet the expectation of having to role play with others still strikes immediate fear into the hearts of many. Trainers see it as an opportunity for employees to practice their new skills and knowledge in a safe place, but trainees see themselves in danger of suffering the severest injury that can be inflicted – embarrassment in front of their peers.

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Working at a “Push Button” Community Can Impede Employee Potential

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent No Comments

Every apartment community has a personality. In fact, if you were to divide up all of the apartment communities in your company portfolio, it is likely that each one would fall into one of the following three categories:

1. Hell on Wheels: A difficult, demanding, back-breaking, problematic community.

2. Easy-Going: An average, occasional challenge, mostly pleasant community.

3. Push Button: A simple, no sweat, uncomplicated, “daily vacation” community. Read More

Identifying and Nurturing High-Potential Employees

By Employee Engagement & Retention: Connecting with and Keeping Star Talent No Comments

When we mistake a high-performing employee for a high-potential one we are making a costly error in management and are risking the loss of real talent. Yet, we are all guilty at some point of doing this because it’s an easy mistake to make. We look out into our ocean of employees and can quickly spot those ‘high profile’ high-performers who stand out in the crowd. Then there are the high-potential employees who are often left on their own and forgotten. You know the type. They are hired, trained (maybe), and given attention when it is convenient, but they are often low maintenance so they fall under the radar. But don’t be mistaken – low maintenance does not equal low potential, as these professionals are often simply doing their jobs and going unnoticed. Read More



  1. All About LIHTC with Karen Graham!

    November 4, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm CDT
  2. Benefits of Mindfulness + Meditation in the Workplace

    December 9, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm CST