Staffing Reinvented: The Power of the Pod Model in the HOA Industry

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Staffing is changing in the HOA industry – no one is surprised to hear this. HOA management has always been a high turnover industry. Years into COVID, people’s expectations have shifted wildly. Both on the employee side and on the client side. Employees expect more flexibility in their work, more independence while simultaneously having more support. This puts pressure on the employers to find a new way to manage staff. Clients have begun to expect instantaneous high touch solutions to their needs, no matter how small. As employees continue to leave and clients continue to expect more, how do we meet this challenge? 

Historically, there have been two approaches to dividing duties: the portfolio model and the departmental model. In the portfolio model, the HOA manager takes on multiple roles, including community management, financial oversight, maintenance coordination, and administrative tasks. This often leads to long working hours, burnout, and a lack of work-life balance. The departmental model assigns specific responsibilities to different departments, such as accounting and maintenance. However, this can result in fragmented communication and frustrated clients who must piece together information from various sources.

To address these challenges, a hybrid model called the Pod model or Account Executive model is gaining popularity. In this approach, the community manager remains the primary point of contact for the community but is supported by specialized staff members in maintenance, accounting, and customer service. These support staff members handle specific tasks for multiple portfolios, easing the workload for the community manager. When turnover or extended absences occur, the institutional knowledge is not lost, and multiple support personnel can step in to ensure continuity. This model promotes collaboration, allows for promotions without the fear of replacing key personnel, and prepares community managers for supervisory positions.

Additionally, the Pod model reduces the need for in-person office presence compared to the portfolio model. This aligns with the changing COVID-19 requirements and enables companies to hire the best talent regardless of commuting feasibility. It also frees up resources to invest in higher wages for key employees like community managers, making the job more appealing.

This shift in staffing also leads to the creation of new positions. Dedicated inspectors, responsible for site visits, violations checks, and vendor coordination, are being introduced to relieve community managers of time-consuming field tasks. Jr CAM (Community Association Manager) positions are being established, allowing remote management of parts of the portfolio with local support. Companies managing smaller communities through remote means are hiring Jr CAMs from out-of-state or nearshore locations. This restructuring allows for increased portfolio size and specialization.

The ultimate goal of this model is to reduce the number of tasks assigned to each person, particularly community managers. By streamlining their responsibilities, their productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction increase. Having support personnel leads to happier and more organized employees, while training specialists reduces mistakes and improves collaboration. Transitioning from the departmental or portfolio models to the Pod model is a worthwhile change that enhances service quality and the overall work-life experience of employees.

In conclusion, the HOA industry is adapting its staffing approach to meet the evolving expectations of employees and clients. The Pod model, combining elements of the portfolio and departmental models, offers a more efficient and supportive structure. By redistributing tasks and providing specialized support, companies can improve employee satisfaction, increase productivity, and deliver better service to their clients.

For a more in-depth article on the Staffing changes in the HOA Industry, visit our blog online: Pod Style for HOA Management.

Sponsor, Gordian Staffing

Rob Buffington has seen every side of the HOA industry there is to see. As owner of an HOA Management company, owner of a Building Maintenance company, a consultant to HOA companies and finally as the owner of Gordian Staffing, the only remote staffing company built around the HOA industry to meet its unique needs. He brings a unique and modern take to the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.