In this report we explore what’s key to improving the employee experience of people working in the housing sector.
Our team has analysed our engagement survey housing data and compared it with our other industries to reveal some eye-opening differences, things to celebrate and a couple of notable areas to address in leadership comms and enablement.
The housing sector is an area ETS has worked extensively in over recent years. Partnering with the likes of Clarion Housing, Guinness Partnership, First Ark (now Livv Housing Group), The Barnet Group and, most recently, Metropolitan Thames Valley has given us an unparalleled oversight. In particular, it has shown us what is enabling and disabling the sector, and specifically, how peoples’ experience working here affects their engagement, fulfilment and impact in their role.
1. Managers performing well
We were encouraged by what we found about managers in this sector, with data suggesting they are performing well against our overall (all industries) benchmark. Particularly noteworthy is their commitment to regular one-to-one meetings with their team members and that they appear to be adept at the giving of recognition, both of which show significant differences to what we see in the overall benchmark (+10% and +19% respectively).
2. Improvement needed in leadership communication
Effective communication, particularly ‘top-down’ from leaders is a priority area to develop for housing organisations, with data showing it is underperforming on key measures versus the benchmark overall. “Great leaders communicate and great communicators lead.” That’s what Simon Sinek reminds us of. Clear, regular and effective communications are a staple part of good leadership. And with so much organisational change and uncertainty in and outside of workplaces at the moment, this is a crucial area to get right to inspire trust and confidence in employees.
“We’ve spoken with many of our clients to understand what it is about their communication strategy that’s hitting the mark right now. Visibility of leaders was a recurring theme with anecdotal feedback that many leaders have stepped up and are more visible than ever before, albeit by video blogs and video town halls! This fresh approach to comms is making leaders more accessible and breaking down walls between the executive and employees. It is a shame that for some it took a pandemic to get there, but it’s a key learning for organisations not doing this to try to adopt and for others to sustain.”
3. Open culture for housing
Our findings show that housing associations are, by and large, doing a great job in the organisational culture they foster. Scores for key aspects like employee voice, inclusion and collaboration are all well above what we see in the overall benchmark. So, what is it that makes the difference in these organisations in comparison to others? And what can business leaders do to harness this strength? Intrinsically it makes sense that organisations with strong values and a common purpose, intent and mission to serve the community might yield such an open culture. Certainly, this serves as a reminder for organisations as to the power of having absolute clarity over what they stand for and how they’ll achieve it.
“Employees now more than ever want to see the big picture and know what it is they are working for. The main takeaway for leaders here is that organisations must continue to ensure they are keeping open lines of communication with their people, and that they are promoting a truly inclusive culture in the midst of a rapidly-changing work environment.”
4. Mixed news on engagement, enablement & empowerment
We found a mixed picture for housing associations when looking at the key elements making up the employee experience. Engagement and empowerment are both pretty strong but employees have concerns around their enablement. The reason this is important is that the three elements effectively act as a tripod – if one is lower, the collective is weakened too. Our research has found that high employee engagement in isolation doesn’t necessarily translate to desired business outcomes. Engagement is one part of a larger and more complex puzzle, and that’s why we must look at the holistic employee experience to get the full picture.
“The biggest negative difference we see here relates to employee perception of one aspect of enablement (having the tools and equipment to do the job). With such diverse roles in organisations in this sector, it would be interesting to understand more about how these perceptions vary between field-based staff versus desk-based teams. Indeed, in the current context with so many people working remotely, a lack of enablement could be more debilitating than ever if left unchecked.”
Want to know how your association measures up?
If you would like a fuller and direct comparison with your own organisation’s latest employee survey scores, speak with us about our free benchmark exchange initiative.
Our housing association benchmark consists of the most recent survey data from those aforementioned groups with which we partner. The data is reported on in percentage favourable (%FAV) terms.
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