Personnel Tales from a Detroit Property Manager: HR Edition

In the past, we’ve written posts about the challenges of dealing with owners, tenants, vendors, contractors, city inspectors and more. Well, we also have to deal with our own workers. So, we’d like to share a couple of stories with you about the things that happened to and with people we employ.

Where Did They Go?

Let’s start with a quick list of what happened regarding the last few people to stop working for us went. All three were very valued members of their respective departments and none of them gave even the slightest impression that there was anything wrong until:

  • One got a secret second job, tried to juggle both jobs for several days before realizing that it couldn’t possibly work out, and then simply announced at the end of a work day that she wasn’t ever coming back…and didn’t.
  • Another was diagnosed with a rare form of fast-moving leukemia, so asked us if they could take a month off to get through the worst part of the treatment. Well, the month is up and still no word from them, although we’ve tried to reach out to make sure they’re at least doing okay.
  • The last one told us on a Wednesday that they needed a day or two off due to a pulled back… then we found out on the following Monday (thanks to a news story with their name in it) that they were jailed without bail. So, we’re not counting on them ever coming back. 

Lesson: There are two. First: even your most reliable, most well-loved, most “normal-seeming” (if that even means anything) workers can get bad ideas in their head — or bad cells in their body — and vanish overnight. Second: be ready for the truth of lesson one. Keep your training materials up-to-date and keep your job placement advertisements polished and ready.

The Danger of Rehires

Two of those that recently left were in the same department and that left that particular department drastically understaffed. So, we reached out to several former workers that had previously left us on good terms.  Two were excited to return, so we had them sign new work contracts and got them input into our systems again. They worked a couple of days — and then they didn’t show up for work. One explained that despite what their new contract laid out, they expected to get their old schedule back. The other literally just stopped existing as far as anyone can tell.

Lesson: just because someone worked hard for you once and left and came back on good terms doesn’t mean they’ll be the same person now that they were when they left. Sometimes, being familiar can make a rehire too comfortable and keep them from putting in the level of effort you need.

Not Such a Downside: Depression and Fibromyalgia

On a positive note, we do have a relatively new hire who turned what would probably be considered somewhat significant problems into very noticeable benefits for us.  Several weeks after we hired this person, they disclosed that they are dealing with depression and fibromyalgia (essentially “everything hurts for no obvious reason”).  These aren’t really issued to fire someone over, and they were really working out well, so we decided to take a chance and let them work from home.

Now they’re working even harder and putting in extra unpaid hours! We’re told that they like working as much as possible because doing so helps deprioritize their mood and pain. They’ve done so well, that we’re giving them more responsibilities in a new department.  

A win-win in the biggest way possible!

Lesson: You can’t get jaded and stop believing in people.

Posted in: 1. Property Owner Blog Posts, Hiring Property Manager, Managing Rentals

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