Onboarding program gets Associa employees in sync

Associa is like any growing company – it is always looking for innovative ways to welcome its new employees to the team. That is why it recently invested in the creation of an orientation program that gets everyone on board and in sync.

Why is this important? Because hiring, onboarding and training is key to engaged employees. What happens when they’re not engaged? They may seek to leave. A recent Glassdoor survey showed that 66% of millennials plan to seek new employment within the next two years – so having strong HR programs is important to retaining talent, regardless of age.

Associa is a global leader in community management, bringing more than 40 years of experience and the highest level of service to clients’ communities. The company seeks to “understand and strive to meet the unique needs of each community, including exceptional expertise and resources specific to each location,” according to Debra A. Warren, Vice President of Development for the Learning & Development Team.

“We offer management services to communities of all sizes with a customized approach designed to enrich each client’s experience. Our offerings go beyond basic community management services by including financial, maintenance, restoration, and insurance solutions,” Warren said. “We provide the most private, secure, integrated and scalable information systems, and we do so with simplicity to ensure our clients understand exactly what’s happening with their data.”

To that end, Associa serves communities of all types – single-family, condo, mixed-use, master-planned communities, luxury high-rise, active adult, resorts, golf and commercial – and it partners with builders, developers and real estate professionals. “Our community managers guide board members in how to best achieve their community’s vision, be it small or grand in scale,” Warren added.

Q: What do you do to orient new employees to the organization?
A: In June, we launched an orientation program that takes new employees through the who, what, where, when and why of Associa. Beginning with a welcome video from our founder and CEO, John Carona, employees instantly feel they are part of the family. Moving on to a comprehensive history of Associa and our industry, even employees with no experience in community management feel like experts. Continuing with an overview of all the benefits and perks Associa employees earn, new hires learn details on medical insurance, training, development opportunities, and more. Our goal is for new team members to begin building their own history with Associa from day one. Finally, the new team members are given a wide variety of tools to help them navigate the specific programs and processes unique to their role.

To continue integrating new employees into our culture, we provide them with a copy of the Associa Book. This pocket-sized book includes a thank you message from John Carona, our company’s mission, pillars, values, and Vision 2020. When an employee understands the company’s purpose, it puts them on the track to success. Regular check-ins ensure the new hires continue to feel welcomed and fully understand their roles.

Q: How did you develop this event or program? A committee? Employee surveys? 
A: All of the above. We consistently ask for ideas and suggestions on how we can make Associa an even better place to work.  In addition to leveraging our weekly internal communications, we also employ the tools below to garner innovation:

  • Employee Advocacy Board: This board is comprised of employees across the organization who gather to discuss ideas on how to improve the employee and client experience at Associa. We understand that those team members who are closest to the daily work have the best input on what we can do to improve, so we know it is crucial to always get their feedback. Suggestions by this board have led to several improvements including shorter wait times on financial reporting to clients, streamlined communications, new technology, and more.
  • Suggestion box: Employees are always encouraged to send any ideas they have to our suggestion box. The ideas are then shared with the proper teams and many of them come to fruition.
  • Townhall meetings: These quarterly meetings allow all employees to speak their mind on what’s working, what needs improvement, and get live answers to specific questions posed to members of the Home Office executive team.

Q: What is the reaction from your team members? 
A: Family Spirit is one of our core values for a reason.  Our employees genuinely want to see each other succeed and thus they take pride in helping their fellow team members get oriented to the Associa way.

Q: What else do you want people to know about your best recruiting, selection and orientation practices? 
A: We ensure job candidates fit our culture by assessing key characteristics related to the role as well as our company’s core values: family spirit, customer service, integrity and accountability, loyalty and innovation and improvement.  Key characteristics that ensure a prospective employee will be a great fit are a desire to collaborate, the ability to learn and grow, the tenacity to innovate, and the aptitude to always serve well. We are in the service industry, making customer service and communication skills the keys to success. Candidates should have a positive attitude, passion for their work and pride in their workplace. Candidates don’t necessarily need industry experience, rather, they need to understand the importance of always providing exemplary customer service. Our robust learning program can teach employees the ins and outs of community management, but without the innate ability to serve well, a candidate won’t be a good fit for our team.