How Associa grew its Great Place to Work ranking

"I feel like Kunik really understands Associa’s needs. We had so many conversations with them in which they always really listened to us. They’ve brought personalized solutions to the table since then that have been game-changers."

Chelle O’Keefe, Executive VP and CHRO at Associa

Learn how Associa, the leading provider of residential leasing and property management services throughout North America, uses Kunik to grow to unprecedented levels of employee feedback and company culture alignment. 

  • Average NPS: 78 (median = 79)
  • 25% of employees participated in Kunik Conversations
  • 1200 employees participated in Stress & Burnout Series: 81 NPS
  • 2 pt. culture score increase – at a time when most culture scores tanked


Since Associa launched in Dallas in 1979 as a boutique property management firm, they’ve grown into the world’s leading community management service company. Their team delivers positive impact and meaningful, all-encompassing solutions to thousands of communities. 

The Problem

Employee retention is crucial, especially in niche industries

Associa is the largest firm in their niche industry, so it’s difficult to hire leaders from outside the company. Instead, they focus on internal leadership development, which brings difficulties like: 

  • Employee retention — How do you address the needs of your employees, in terms of mental health, burnout, and engagement? 
  • Creating organizational culture — How do you continue to strengthen your company culture in a post-pandemic world? 

Those were the questions Chelle O’Keefe, Executive VP and CHRO at Associa, asked herself. If you fail to answer them, it results in employee turnover, which is a direct hit to profitability. The issue is that employee retention is far cheaper than hiring and training new employees. In Associa’s industry, when you lose an employee, you likely lose the clients they support. 

Other partners that help companies develop workplace culture tend to focus exclusively on leadership, development, culture, or some other variable, but Associa needed a partner to help them strengthen leadership and culture in a variety of ways. Fortunately, they found Kunik. 

The Solution

Kunik Conversations foster new levels of feedback & company culture alignment

Chelle loved that from day one of the onboarding process, Kunik was intent on understanding Associa’s unique needs and bringing experts to the table to address each one. The Kunik team strategized and executed unique solutions for the firm while offering up successful ideas they had implemented for other clients. 

Chelle notes that solution providers often offer pre-packaged ideas; in comparison, Kunik’s approach was “collaborative and fresh.” Here’s one example: 

  1. Kunik created the opportunity for over 800 Associa employees to register for an optional conversation on burnout. 
  2. Attendees shared their experiences through Kunik Conversations, which resulted in unprecedented levels of feedback and company culture alignment. 
  3. They also focused on de-escalation skills between employees and clients. In their communities, emotions seem to run higher than ever before, so Associa must figure out how to evenly communicate and solve problems. 

In the case of Associa, Kunik Conversations were the perfect gateway to company synergy. 

“Our frontline employees, ERG leaders, and leaders in general are really leveraging Kunik for multiple different opportunities.” 

The Results

Associa’s workplace rating increases post-pandemic

Associa participates in the annual Great Place To Work survey. It’s not a title you can buy. Rather, employees must complete a survey and rate their employer very highly. Associa has been certified for six years straight, but things got interesting in 2022. 

Whereas most companies dropped multiple points post-pandemic, Associa scored higher than ever. Their company culture hasn’t only remained strong — it has actually grown stronger. Chelle attributes this growth to partnering with Kunik and strategizing high-impact solutions for the firm’s weaker areas. 

Take a look at the associated metric improvements: 

  • Average NPS: 78 (median = 79)
  • 25% of employees participated in Kunik Conversations
  • 1200 employees participated in Stress & Burnout Series: 81 NPS
  • 2 pt. culture score increase – at a time when most culture scores tanked
“Through the pandemic and into this somewhat post-pandemic world, our culture at Associa has remained strong and actually grown. Partnering with Kunik and finding these solutions is certainly part of that overall effort and result.” 

The Future

Chelle looks forward to continuing to work with Kunik because they’re clearly “trying to stay on the cutting edge of what’s interesting and relevant to businesses and employees right now.” 

Many of our clients are in tech, and when major layoffs in the sector began, Kunik immediately began posting expert resources on how companies can help employees through these difficult periods. That’s the precise type of engagement and value-add that Chelle loves to see.

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