BTR: Power to the people

December 2019

The British Property Federation has estimated that there is 148,046 build to rent units either completed or planned across the UK – a rough breakdown is 34,840 completed, 35,760 under construction, and a further 77,446 with planning permission. This is a substantial addition to the UK’s housing stock, but unlike BTS or traditional PRS models, BTR needs a completely different operational infrastructure.


Based on comprehensive experience in the market, Property Recruitment Company has a  formula of 1 employee for every 60 units. Working with this figure, they estimate that there will be a need for over 2500 hires in building operations alone, and that is on the basis of every organisation having a 100% retention rate. To this ends, attraction and retention are going to be of crucial focus for the sector.


The operations of a BTR development are crucial to its success and engaged motivated staff are paramount to those operations. There is little point creating fantastic, enticing offerings if they are ultimately poorly staffed by people who are unmotivated. BTR customers increasingly expect greater levels of service, and the optimal running of these services is one of the key factors that is critical in keeping block retention high.


To get an insight into their employment journeys so far, Property Recruitment Company, surveyed candidates who have entered the BTR sector at an operational level within the last two years. Below are some of their key findings.


86% of employees see themselves working in the BTR sector for at least the next two years

81% Were satisfied by their company’s induction and onboarding

75% Also agreed that the role was what they expected

53% of respondents do not have a clear progression plan


Their research suggests that at the moment adequate resources are being put in place to onboard staff, but transparency around career progression needs serious improvement.  They also looked at similar sectors to understand why career progression plans are important and in a survey they conducted with operational employees within the PBSA sector, the biggest reason employees left their current employer was lack of career progression.


So, what advice would they give to anyone that will be operating assets within this sector?


PROTECT YOUR BRAND – It is surprising how much employers invest in their brand to appeal to customers but don’t connect that job applicants are also their customers. Be clear on your attraction strategy, values and vision, as outside of the conference venue the wider employment market is still very unaware of the great potential career in BTR can provide. Also, for every person who is offered employment there are many more who applied but didn’t make the shortlist, or those that were successful through the interview process, but ultimately were not offered positions. Every step of the process needs to be a positive one as the old adage is still the same: that bad experiences tend to be spoken about more than the good and in a world of online reviews this cannot be taken lightly.  Lastly, ensure you educate and trust your supply chain who are your some of your most important brand managers. This aligns with Geraghty Taylors Brand-Before-Building methodology which focuses on the essential elements of the brand in the design planning stage, building it into the project from the very start.


ONBOARDING – Never underestimate the power of a structured onboarding programme.  As a sector, BTR is experiencing record numbers of candidates entering with non-property related backgrounds and with this will come new ideas and innovation, but also a responsibility to educate and alleviate the fear of the unknown. Onboarding should not be perceived as what happens on the first day of employment alone, but instead, from the moment you have found your new employee, it should be a continuous journey.  Ensure there is constant engagement throughout the time from offer to start. Simple things such as site days, team interactions, company educational documents will reap huge reward, comfort and satisfaction.


CAREER PROGRESSION – Previous surveys across property classes have suggested that organisations struggle to present operational staff with career progression routes. Even though the route may initially seem unclear, not everything has to be fixed around the next job title people are going to secure. The feedback received is that candidates are happy to be patient providing their skills can be recognised. Ensure you are constantly reviewing your employees, providing training, benefits, work-life balance, corporate social responsibility and internal/ external award recognition.


In conclusion, the next few years will see unprecedented levels of employment within the BTR sector and with that will come unique challenges, but many of these can be mitigated through preparation and understanding of your attraction and retention policies. Get your staffing right and the rewards will follow. 


Geraghty Taylor understands that good design and customer experience are the source of your revenue, and good staffing is the cornerstone of good customer experience. Looking after the staff who look after your customers is the easiest way to protect your asset and is therefore integral to the success of every BTR development.


Create Differently


#BTR #BuildtoRent #Brand #Brandbeforebuilding


Thank you to Kevin Redman from Property Recruitment Company for his expert collaboration on this article.