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social housing challenges

The biggest challenges facing social housing recruiters in 2024

Tags: Candidate Experience, Employer Brand, Recruitment Process, Recruitment Transformation

Challenges facing the Social Housing sector

The challenges in the social housing sector are many, and they’re not solely just about recruitment. The increasing pressure to meet the demand for social rented housing is a growing issue, and one that will no doubt play a major role in shaping the key policies in the next UK general election.

Indeed, research from the social rented housing trends report published by the House of Commons would suggest that England needs at least 90,000 net additional social rent homes a year to meet the demand, and the National Housing Federation estimating as many as 1.6 million households with unmet housing need that would be best met through social renting.

There are green shoots in the sector, for example the Affordable Homes Programme expected to deliver 32,000 social rented homes from 2021 to 2026, but for these and other programmes to be successful, the sector requires not just the thought leadership to plan it, or the investment to fund it, but also the people to make it happen!

Housing Associations have seen numerous challenges stunt recruitment and accelerate employee churn in recent years. Here we’ll review the biggest threats to hiring in housing, some practical approaches to beginning to solve them, and some ways the right tech can help…

So what are the biggest recruitment challenges facing the Social Housing sector in 2024?

1 – Skill Shortages and Role Complexity

The social housing sector often grapples with finding candidates with the right blend of skills, especially as roles become more complex, integrating social care, property management, and sustainability. And even when the right people are in the application process, identifying those with the relevant skills and qualifications can be tough. Recruiters can find themselves in need of a tool capable of streamlining the process by targeting job postings to platforms frequented by ideal candidates and utilising screening tools to identify applicants with specific skill sets.

2 – Budget Constraints and Compensation Competition

As a Housing Association recruiter, you’re typically operating under tight budget constraints to begin with, making it challenging to offer competitive salaries compared to the private sector. It also means that while reliance on agencies is understandable, an endless cycle of sunk spend with only short term return can prevent budget going towards technological advancements which could offer longer term solutions. For example recruitment technology can help get more long term ROI by optimising recruitment marketing, ensuring job advertisements reach a wide, targeted audience efficiently, maximising the return on investment for each hire.

3 – Diversity and Inclusion Goals

Achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce is a significant challenge, especially in sectors such as social housing where it’s a huge business aim to reflect the communities they serve. It can be difficult to know where to start on improving your processes, but platforms like Tribepad can support removing unconscious bias by anonymizing applications to reduce unconscious bias and providing data analytics to track diversity metrics throughout the recruitment process, not only ensuring you implement better practices, but also giving you the outputs to prove it! Learn more about our commitment to helping everyone do better on EDI with our Stop The Bias Report.

4 – Adapting to Remote Work and Digitalization

The shift towards remote work and digital operations requires candidates with digital literacy and the ability to work effectively in a remote setting. This can be a challenge in sectors with an ageing workforce. In addition, many candidates in sectors such as social housing where certain roles require more travel and social engagement could be tempted to trade in for a role with more home-based convenience. Having the right technology can aid in some of these areas by facilitating remote hiring processes, from video interviews to online onboarding, helping to attract candidates who are comfortable and thrive in a digital-first environment.

5 – Regulatory Compliance and Safeguarding

Social Housing roles often require strict adherence to regulatory standards and safeguarding measures. Not only can this add a huge amount of admin work for your already stretched team, without the right tech in place, it can also lead to unnecessary delays, long hiring processes and lost candidates who are offered other positions in the meantime. To transform this process, recruiters can use technology to automate compliance checks and maintain detailed records, ensuring candidates meet all necessary legal and safety requirements.

6 – Employee Churn, Retention & Career Development

Social Housing is experiencing an increasing difficulty with employee churn, under tough circumstances where prioritisation of budgets is split between retaining top talent and meeting significant investment needs across quality and building safety, as well as high inflation and increased borrowing costs – all of which can create a tough working environment and lack of development and progression prospects. Retaining talent by offering clear career development paths is a challenge. Recruitment technology can aid in internal mobility by identifying current employees for open positions or development opportunities, both rewarding high performing team members, and reducing the pressure to recruit externally.

7 – Evolving Tenant Expectations and Community Engagement

As tenant expectations evolve, requiring more personalised and community-focused services, finding candidates who not only have the technical skills but also the soft skills for effective engagement is challenging. Using the right technology could help identify candidates with a track record of community involvement or customer service excellence through targeted questions and assessments in the early stages of recruitment.

8 – Reputational Issues and Lack of Appeal to Younger Career Seekers

The social housing sector faces significant reputational challenges, detracting from its appeal as a career choice for younger individuals. These issues stem from public perceptions of the sector’s stability, innovation level, and its societal impact. To attract new talent and dispel misconceptions, housing associations need to actively promote the sector’s role in social good, highlight innovation in sustainable and affordable housing, and offer clear career progression paths that resonate with younger people’s values and professional aspirations…

Your biggest weapons: What are the great things about working in social housing?

It’s not all doom and gloom! Whilst looking only at the challenges faced in social housing recruitment can paint something of a bleak picture, it’s important to remember there are many positives, and many rewarding elements to a career in the sector. And these positives can form the basis of a strong recruiting proposition for your brand. So let’s take a look at 8 motivating factors for a career in social housing…

  • Make a Real Difference: Work directly impacts improving lives and communities
  • Diverse Career Paths: Opportunities in various disciplines, from property management to social care
  • Innovation and Sustainability: Be at the forefront of sustainable living solutions
  • Community Engagement: Direct interaction with communities, shaping better living environments
  • Stability and Growth: The sector offers job security and personal growth
  • Inclusive Culture: Commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Rewarding Challenges: Solve complex problems with innovative approaches
  • Strong Sector Network: Be part of a supportive community of professionals

Communicating these as part of a wider recruitment strategy can be tricky, but if you need some help getting off the ground, there are steps you can put in place…

Where do I start when transforming my approach to recruitment in social housing?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there’s no easy fix to some huge issues in the sector. But if you’re looking for somewhere to start, there are practical things that should be at the top of the list in order to get ahead and start attracting the right candidates and building a more achievable journey to meet hiring goals.

1 – Strengthen Employer Branding

Actively communicate the sector’s impact on community and sustainability to attract candidates aligned with these values, and ensure this shines through in everything from your careers page, to your interview process, social media engagements, and onboarding content.

2 – Enhance Career Path Visibility

Clearly outline career progression opportunities and professional development programs to appeal to career-conscious candidates. This will help not only with attraction of new candidates, but also satisfaction of existing employees. Work with hiring managers and department heads to nail down realistic progression paths, and implement cultures of regular reviews to understand where there are opportunities to reward and retain skilled workers.

3 – Implement Inclusive Recruitment Strategies

Use diverse hiring panels and inclusive job descriptions to attract a broad range of candidates. Tech can help with this, but it’s also about attitudes and culture throughout the company. Diversity training and regular, honest reflections on the data will show you where you are and help build a vision for where you want to be. As for the how to get there, we can help there.

4 – Leverage Social Media and Digital Platforms

Utilise digital platforms to showcase the organisation’s culture and social impact, reaching younger audiences effectively. Often social media can be seen as an added bonus, but many candidates will research thoroughly, and look for tell-tale signs as to the type of business you are. Showcasing employee reward, social responsibility and also a strong recruiter proposition brand can all be powerful tools in improving candidate attraction.

5 – Offer Competitive Packages and Flexibility

Easier said than done right? Even if it’s not feasible to make immediate changes to the package you can offer, make sure you’re making the most of what you already do offer. Highlight not just salaries but also the benefits of working in the sector, such as work-life balance, remote working options, and job security.

6 – Use Technology to Transform Your Processes

Using recruitment software can be an enormous helping hand for you, your teams and your business. Just a few of the ways it can help include…

  • Attract candidates and screen them effectively to make informed hires
  • Streamline processes to save time to focus on strategy
  • Stop endless agency spend and free up budget for progress
  • Give your team the power to make data-driven decisions
  • Enhance candidate experience from application to onboarding
  • Build talent pools to promote from within and create progression journeys
  • Remove compliance headaches and reduce drop-outs
  • Create a clear employer brand to set you apart

What’s next?

Ready to hear more about Tribepad and how our tech can solve your biggest hiring headaches in social housing?

Find out all about our products, and who we’re already working with to make their recruitment fairer, faster and better.

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