In January 2020 I walked into a leasing office and found a leaser sitting behind her desk, wearing a mask. I had not yet heard of Covid. I remember thinking “Is she sick”? She informed me she was not sick, and then went on to say there is a global wide epidemic coming that had already affected her family abroad. To me the young lady looked out of sorts with the mask on and the bottles of hand sanitizers on her desk. I remember thinking she seemed a little “paranoid”. By March 2020 Covid 19 was at the forefront of all our multifamily minds and Covid 19 was all anyone was talking about. Life as we knew it was changed indefinitely. We continue to struggle to understand what the new “normal” should be. Covid 19 has brought us to a state of mind that focus’s on fear and uncertainty. We are afraid to even touch each other. And God Forbid someone should cough in the office.
Twenty+ years of multifamily experience and traveling has awarded me with the benefit of having good friends nationwide. At the beginning of Covid, I started getting 1-2 contacts a week through my MrsGamechanger.FUN site from multifamily friends and clients under extreme duress onsite. At first the stories were about the effects of the economic changes. So many Americans were laid off or slowly losing their jobs. Residents could not pay their rent. Kids were no longer going to school and homeschooling became the norm. The residents are all home. As the gyms were shut down normal patterns of stress relief were out of the question. It was longest summer ever with no pool. The leasing office, and the onsite staff, became a target to the residents. Managers reported that the public was being horribly “mean” to them and their whole staff and they felt like whipping posts. Within a few months the calls increased to 3-6 per week. Now… I get 3-6 calls a day and the subject matter has changed to discussing the struggles onsite teams are having with their employees/coworkers. The stories I am told are at times overwhelming to me, but fact is stranger than fiction! Managers often state that their office feels like, “a bomb getting ready to explode” and it’s harder and harder to keep their teams motivated. Have you ever heard a maintenance supervisor cry? I have.
2020 has brought us Hurricanes, an unemployment high of 14%, a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and extreme politics as we enter into election season. Oh yeah, and here comes the holidays! Multifamily employees stress levels and anxiety continues to escalate.
Are we brushing mental health under the rug? Are companies afraid to tackle this very serious issue and educate their employees how to “Cope with Covid”. Or do they feel they are stepping into a legal minefield? Are we being mindful of our mental health and the mental health of those around us? Is it okay to not be okay? Taking a hard look at our own actions, thoughts, or emotions and self-reflection is an excellent way to begin coping with Covid. We are in the business of managing people! Residents, Vendor Partner Relationships, Employees, Prospects. We do this all day, every day, 9-5 and then we go home and manage our families. We all have heard the old adage, “You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.” Self-control and coping with Covid, managing yourself through the stress and anxiety of personal and professional life can become overwhelming. Understanding when you and others need help is key. Are you able to self-evaluate and resist anxiety driven behaviors? Can you assist and shepherd your team to do so as well?
If you feel like your cheese might be sliding off the cracker, below are 5 considerations for every multifamily professional to reflect on.
- You must manage your own stress. Simple things such as hobbies, cooking, exercise and meditation can often be simple and immediate forms of intervention.
- Changes in sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping? Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly to rejuvenate their minds. Turn off your cell phones and charge them in another room to resist reading your emails. Turn off the t.v’s. Unplug yourself. Consider melatonin supplements to support your immune system. Melatonin also improves energy, immunity and mental sharpness.
- Changes in eating patterns? Feelings of confinement, depression, and isolation during quarantine are a recipe for bad eating habits causing rapid weight gain. Avoid shaming yourself. Instead, reflect on the habits that have led to the weight gain. Comfort foods, alcohol consumption, grazing are the top causes of gaining the “Corona 15 pounds”.
- Many companies offer wellness programs that may/may not offer mental health helplines. I recommend multifamily fitness coach and guru Laura Ryan of 4 Wellness. Go to www.mrsgamechanger.fun and link onto the blog to jump start your wellness journey. This site also offers FREE motivation power hours and ½ hours for 6&Fix Heating and Cooling clients to lift your multifamily teams and offer support.
- Stop avoiding the elephant in the room. Above all else, it is important to know when to seek help for yourself or someone around you. It’s okay to talk about “Corona Crazy”. A sympathetic ear is always a positive step towards grounding someone. Know when to encourage friends it is important to seek a higher level of treatment. Mental health professionals can assist in diagnoses and treatment. Do not be afraid to speak with someone. These professionals identify causes of mental health disorders and will help you set goals for treatment.
- Be Kind to EVERYONE! Don’t villainize your boss, the PM, RPM, Management company, etc. We are all in this together and everyone is doing the best that they can to maneuver through unprecedented times.
There are several mental health resources online and contact information. Below are a few that I like to share:
- Laura4yan@outlook.com (Multifamily 4 Wellness in the workplace)
Commit yourself to coming out of 2020 a healthier, stronger, motivated Property Management professional. You work in a profession that requires empathy, understanding, resilience, strength and so much more. Above all else – take care of yourself. If you don’t, you won’t be able to take care of the people that rely on you and your leadership.