Onboarding and employee development in the property management industry involves particular challenges. What are those? That’s a question we asked Natalia Muturi, Board Member at Mzuri.
What are the biggest employee onboarding challenges in your industry?
Mzuri is a leader in the residential rental property management industry. At the moment, we are taking care of over 6500 flats in 64 cities in Poland.
I think these figures are quite impressive. In practice, overseeing it all is a considerable logistical challenge. Over 200 people regularly cooperate with Mzuri. In addition, the company is developing dynamically – we are currently hiring 20 new people in several cities.
In my opinion, it is impossible to speak of successful onboarding without a broader context. The key in our case is to take the recruitment process seriously. We have an ambition to have a board member meet (or at least hold an e-meeting) every new person before we start working together. Often a manager puts forward 2 or 3 applications and then it is very time-consuming. I have 13 job interviews scheduled for next week.
However, we believe that thanks to a multi-stage recruitment process, we are able to invite people who fit in with Mzuri (in internal jargon: they have the Wazuri DNA*). Then the onboarding issues become much easier. 🙂
The greatest difficulty in onboarding new employees is the dispersed geographical structure. So, most of the onboarding takes place in a given city (even though we do not have a physical office there) and online. On the HCM Deck platform, called the Wazuri Platform here, we have lots of presentations, webinars and tasks to do. An indispensable element, until COVID-19, was a one-day meeting at our headquarters in Lodz. A new colleague could walk around the office, do ‘internships’ in other departments and listen to funny anecdotes about the company over lunch with the management.
Have you noticed a change in the approach to onboarding in Poland in recent years? Has the process become more structured?
It is certainly talked about more. Onboarding, seen in Hollywood films and practised in global corporations, knocks on the doors of small and medium-sized companies. Employees expect a greater effort from their employer than showing them their desk. And employers know that better implementation will translate into greater employee motivation.
How, in your experience, does correct onboarding translate into business value?
Very much. We see it every step of the way. There was a time when overloaded with other responsibilities, we did let go completing the onboarding by new employees. So, they were ‘thrown in at the deep end’ or ‘they were extinguishing fires’. Later, there was no one to make sure they complete the onboarding missed. The consequence of this was a whole ‘generation’ that did not really understand how what they do every day translates into the final customer experience.
We are now coming back to the subject of onboarding, not only for new employees, but all colleagues, with doubled force. We want to be a sales organisation. This means that we want everyone to be able to talk about our services. About rental management, consultancy relating to investing in flats for rent and group investments in property. We believe that when everyone is comfortable with these topics, they are more likely to bring it up talking to their family at the Christmas table or friends at a party. If they manage to encourage someone to use our services, they will be paid extra. If they fail, I believe, they will at least identify more with the company, than if they were just experts in their profession (e.g. IT), knowing nothing about property investment.
What role do you think onboarding plays in the entire employee experience?
In my opinion, it is the same role as that of the recruitment itself. But more than a tenth month of work, for example. We all surely remember these strong emotions. Almost all of us can remember the recruitment interview and the first day in the office of the company we are currently working at. However, it is much harder to tell us exactly what we were doing on Wednesday, a month ago.
How do you take care of employee development at other stages of the life cycle?
We have recently launched a new sales trainings cycle. It is there that we teach our co-workers how to talk about our newly established investment company, thanks to which you can invest in property from just PLN 10,000. For the time being, they are attended by sales representatives who have so far sold other products and managers of departments not related to sales. I am surprised by how enthusiastic they are about expanding their sales and investing knowledge.
We have also been using the Wazuri Platform, mentioned before, where information from the life of the company is published daily, for several years already. Co-workers can take part in discussions. This way, they have a real impact on how they develop, sharing their opinions, boasting about their professional successes, asking for advice, and supporting colleagues.
In your industry, the expertise is of great importance. What measures should be taken to retain it?
We offer our most committed employees to take up shares in the company. It is only the people who treat Mzuri as if it was their own company and who put an above-standard effort into its development that we accept to this trusted group.
*In Swahili, ’Mzuri’ means ‘well’. ‘Wazuri’ means ‘good people’ and that’s what we call the co-workers at Mzuri.
Natalia Muturi is graduate of Human Geography of the London Queen Mary University and HR Business Partner at the Kozminski University. For 6 years associated with the Mzuri Group – the leader in managing apartments for rent in Poland (she has been investing in real estate since 2010). Previously, she worked as a sales director for rental management services, and for two years she has been creating an HR department for an organization of two hundred people.