PredictAP Blog

3 Strategies for Improving Accounts Payable Retention in Real Estate

A massive labor shortage fueled by The Great Resignation presents new challenges for real estate leaders today. As workers leave their jobs for higher pay and more fulfilling work, retaining key talent is critical to keep operations running. 

Pew research reports that employees most often cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement  as key reasons for leaving their positions. Unfortunately, the structure of most real estate AP operations means that it is ground zero for the factors that increase costly turnover. 

AP Turnover is costly

With legacy processes that require manual input and limited paths toward advancement, it’s not surprising that 36% of AP pros are currently looking for a new job. Turnover represents a particular threat in AP departments, as legacy processes and tribal knowledge required to do the work effectively and accurately mean that getting  new employees up to speed takes longer. 

AP leaders risk more than inefficiency when hiring and training new staff in a hiring cycle. High staff turnover can contribute to more errors, lower productivity, late payments, burnout among remaining staff, and jeopardized tenant and supplier relationships.

What can real estate do about it?

Savvy business leaders can use these strategies to reduce and derisk AP turnover in real estate. Start with these research-backed approaches.

1. Automate manual work to attract & retain AP staff

Automating labor-intensive, repetitive processes for your real estate AP team can help your business grow by attracting top talent and unlocking hidden potential in your existing AP employees. 

New research from AvidXchange and the Institute of Finance & Management shows that AP professionals reported over 50% of their duties can be partially or fully automated. AP professionals see the potential for automation, and it impacts their employment decisions: 46% of AP pros report it is “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” that they would consider working for another AP department that hasn’t already automated. 

Leveraging automation in accounts payable isn’t just an efficiency boost for your real estate business today—automating repetitive tasks frees up your team to focus on meaningful work, which increases job satisfaction and employee retention.

When labor-intensive tasks like invoice coding are partially or fully automated, AP pros enjoy higher job satisfaction and your real estate business is protected from costly consequences of high turnover. 

2. Provide opportunities for growth to improve AP retention

Opportunities for growth and advancement are major reasons employees cite for leaving their current jobs. This desire for meaningful work is even greater among outdated organizations with outdated AP processes: AvidXchange reports two-thirds of AP practitioners believe that “a lack of tools and technology are a barrier to their professional development and career advancement.” 

Employees want to feel valued and challenged at work, opportunities for which are limited when real estate businesses rely on AP to simply push paper and complete repetitive tasks. In fact, IOFM reports that 47% of AP pros don’t think their job utilizes their skills and abilities. 

The data is clear: when AP professionals spend their days engaging in repetitive tasks like invoice coding and manual routing and approvals, they look for more meaningful work elsewhere. AvidXchange finds that 46% of AP pros report it is “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” that they would consider working for another AP department that hasn’t already automated. In fact, in organizations with manual/paper-based operations, 48% of AP professionals have searched or applied for a new job within the last six months.

By providing opportunities for meaningful work and professional growth, AP leaders can build efficient teams that accomplish more for tenants and stakeholders.

3. Codify tribal knowledge to de-risk AP turnover

Turnover happens even at organizations making every effort to attract and retain top talent. The loss of an employee with key tribal knowledge—deep expertise specific to their daily work—is a significant threat to your bottom line. Savvy real estate AP teams must document processes and procedures so that critical insights don’t leave with seasoned team members. 

When AP effectiveness depends too much on siloed, specific know-how, it ensures bottlenecks and burnout, which are a real threat to growth. Moreover, the staff left behind when a seasoned employee leaves can struggle to ramp up their expertise while staying efficient, putting their retention on the line.

Whether you choose to automate processes, manually document coding procedures, or cross-train your staff, be sure to protect your business by codifying tribal knowledge. 

Build a comprehensive AP retention strategy to boost efficiency

Mitigating the risks of turnover in your real estate AP department starts with thinking about the needs and preferences of your talent. Learn more about how you can support your AP team and address inefficiency to grow your business in our ebook.