The last few tumultuous years have created a challenging labor market for operators of self-storage facilities and other businesses. Many of these difficulties continue in 2024. This article examines three workplace trends of which you should be aware, plus guidance on how to cope with them.

Tracy Winn

March 8, 2024

4 Min Read

There’s been tremendous evolution in the workplace over the last few years, and current world events may drive that evolution further. Many potential barriers lie before us, including the U.S. presidential election. We can expect it to be a time of caution, not only in the self-storage industry but across the business world.

In fact, caution will be a running theme throughout the human-resources (HR) sector this year, according to experts. Let’s look at the three biggest trends emerging in the workplace in 2024 and how you can successfully navigate them.

Dealing With Economic Uncertainty

At the start of 2023, many economists warned of a recession fueled by high inflation, rising interest rates and other factors. However, the economy outperformed expectations. Now no one knows for certain what to expect this year.

What we do know is economic uncertainty can stir up fear that causes businesses to re-evaluate their decision-making. Here are a few examples of items that might be impacted:

  • Growth initiatives supported by employee hiring and development may be shelved as companies take a more risk-averse approach to staff management.

  • Open positions may be left unfilled, leaving existing employees to juggle more responsibilities and potentially reducing morale.

  • Expenses may be scaled back, which can halt or curtail initiatives such as customer-acquisition programs.

  • Operating costs may continue to be unpredictable, which can make it difficult to set budgets or pricing.

This year, employee retention should be a top priority for self-storage operators. Replacing lost staff—and the institutional knowledge they take with them—is time-consuming and costly. Ultimately, stronger retention leads to a robust organization and happier team members, which often has a direct correlation with improved profitability.

Preparing for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022, generative AI has quickly stirred up curiosity—and fear—among business owners, HR leaders and workers. For companies, the idea of leveraging AI to improve productivity, customer service and innovation is attractive. However, employees may be concerned about the impact on their jobs.

AI isn’t new to the workplace or our everyday lives; but as more companies tested and adopted it in 2023, it became clear that it’s most beneficial to an organization when accompanied by a system of checks, balances and brainpower that only humans can provide. That said, its use should allow employees to shift their focus from mundane or repetitive tasks to more meaningful strategic and innovative efforts. In short, when used with proper guidance and training, AI presents a variety of exciting opportunities for self-storage owners and their staff.

As a facility operator, you’ll be challenged to weigh the benefits and risks of AI and determine how it can be useful for your company. You’ll also need to craft policies and training to guide employees on how to use it properly.

Catering to a More Informed Workforce

Today’s employees have more access to information than ever before, making them more knowledgeable about their rights and, therefore, more empowered. They also have the ability to immediately share their experiences and feelings with large audiences via social media. For this reason, self-storage employers need a well-considered and intentional approach to team engagement and communication. The goal is to foster trust, which increases worker satisfaction and productivity.

With this new reality in mind, carefully assess your self-storage company’s existing policies and procedures and update them as necessary. If possible, work with a legal team or employment lawyer to ensure everything is up to date, and there’s a clear understanding of what new developments and regulations impact the workforce. It’s also important to review employee job descriptions for accuracy.

After your handbook is updated, inform your staff. Start by educating your supervisors on employment rights and equipping them with the resources they need to foster an environment of openess with their teams. This’ll help staff feel more comfortable about bringing issues or concerns directly to their superiors, which is key to maintaining a positive company culture.

In fact, revisiting your culture and assessing your employee-engagement efforts will go a long way toward building trust. A company that builds a reputation as a great place to work is attractive to prospective employees, enabling you to hire more qualified, loyal and productive people.

Navigating this workplace evolution during uncertain economic times may seem overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember that steps to improve employee retention and engagement can be implemented over time. Start by evaluating where improvements can be made, then put a plan into action. The goal should always be to retain your top talent, which will ensure your self-storage business enjoys long-term success.

Tracy Winn is senior client-success manager for G&A Partners, a professional employer organization that has been helping entrepreneurs in all industries grow their businesses for more than 25 years. She has expertise in benefits administration, payroll, employee relations and other critical HR functions. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and holds credentials from the Society of Human Resource Management. For more information, call 888.392.1226.

About the Author(s)

Tracy Winn

Tracy Winn is senior client-success manager for G&A Partners, a professional employer organization that has been helping entrepreneurs in all industries grow their businesses for more than 25 years. She has expertise in benefits administration, payroll, employee relations and other critical HR functions. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and holds credentials from the Society of Human Resource Management. For more information, call 888.392.1226.

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