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How To Win At The Multifamily Talent Game

As published in by Carrie Rossenfeld
Jan 3, 2017

SAN DIEGO—Putting the passion and energy necessary to source and recruit the correct talent takes dedicated team members who take pride in whom they bring onto the team, Sunrise Management’s Marc Corless tells The firm recently promoted the former PETCO exec to the position of chief people officer.

Previously the director of human resources for Sunrise, Corless takes charge of all aspects of human resource administration and management—including policies, practices and operations—for the San Diego-based company. With significant experience on a multi-state level, Corless will lead and develop human resources operations for Sunrise locally, regionally and nationally, applying his expertise to organizational development, strategic planning, employee development and retention, risk management, talent acquisition and more.

We spoke with Corless about the challenges and strategies for recruiting and retaining employees in the highly competitive multifamily industry. The multifamily industry is highly competitive these days. What are some core strategies you use to attract and retain top talent?

Corless: The key is to understand what our clients’ and residents’ needs are and then correctly align our team members with those needs to assure the best service and overall success. In my opinion, we are faced with a challenging labor shortage that will only get worse. In order to succeed, it is vital to differentiate yourself from the competition as a company that people are proud to work for—as well as provide a challenging and rewarding work environment. People also want to work for a cutting-edge company that successfully leverages technology.

Putting the passion and energy into sourcing and recruiting the correct talent is not easy and takes dedicated team members that take pride in who they bring onto the team. Employees must support new team members and demonstrate sincere interest in their development and future with the company. Our company has a core value of recognizing team members on a monthly basis for above-and-beyond service provided to residents, clients and co-workers. Employees must be current on all training classes to be eligible for the award. What key attributes do you look for when hiring employees?

Corless: All of us have strong attributes and abilities. The challenge is to identify those talents during the interview and onboarding process and help position a new employee for success. We all have different professional aspirations and may be at different stages in our career. When considering people in the early stages of their career or looking to make a change, I look for someone who wants to learn, asks questions, is patient, wants to build a solid foundation, is adaptable to change, offers to take on new projects and has a positive outlook. Individuals that are further along in their career can either be an individual contributor or a leader—either way, they must want to share their wisdom and not be afraid to speak up and provide guidance to others. Once hired, how do you encourage peak performance? For example, how do in-house training, defined performance goals and mentoring impact performance for those on your property-management team?

Corless: In order to achieve peak performance, it is important to empower team members to make decisions and take ownership of their actions. Management needs to be open and direct about what the goals are and what their role is in achieving the goals. Team members should be encouraged to try different things in order to excel and develop—which may result in mistakes. To foster optimal learning and performance, people must work in an environment where they are supported and encouraged. Without a safe environment, people will hesitate to be creative and reluctant to try something new and potentially better.

I’m not a fan of formal performance reviews, but I do advocate quality communication on performance and expectations. The commitment to training is critical for the company, client and team members so everyone is on the same page to drive maximum performance. As the labor shortage grows and a younger workforce enters the workforce, mentoring and developing team members will make the difference between successfully retaining talent and being a struggling turn-and-burn workplace. What are key industry trends and challenges that impact multifamily hiring and recruiting?

Corless: As rents continue to go up, there will be a greater demand from residents for better on-site amenities and services. Residents and clients expect to communicate with us through new channels that leverage technology. Increasingly, residents want to use technology to ask questions, complete applications, pay rent, submit maintenance requests, follow property events and follow and contribute to social-media commentary. As mentioned earlier, with the upcoming labor shortage it will be harder to find and retain quality team members that are capable and comfortable working in this new high-tech environment. Additionally, our clients will have a greater demand for technologically oriented services and advanced analytical data pertaining to multiple aspects of the business—which may challenge current teams unprepared to meet this need.

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