Hays UK blog


3 ways to attract and retain top social housing professionals

By Richard Gelder, Director of Hays Construction & Property

Engaging candidates with the right skills and experience remains an ongoing priority for social housing employers, according to our latest Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 report. Demand for social housing is rising. The introduction of legislation such as the Homelessness Reduction Act and Housing & Planning Act has increased pressure on services, meaning that sourcing the right talent to help ensure a smooth delivery has never been more important.

Nearly three quarters (71%) of social housing employers expect to encounter difficulties finding suitable applicants when recruiting over the coming year, with a third having experienced a shortage of projects and change management skills, and half struggling to find candidates with managerial and leadership skills.

The projected increase in activity and continuing recruitment pressure for the social housing sector clearly renders it more important than ever for employers to create attractive propositions for prospective candidates in order to make sure demands are met. So how can organisations ensure that they not only attract the right professionals for the job – but provide them with a reason to stay?

1. Be transparent about pay

According to our salary survey, social housing salaries have risen by 1.9% this year, against a 0.6% increase the year before. Despite this, nearly half (47%) of social housing employees remain unhappy with their salaries, and of the 53% who are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months, 36% cite their salary and benefits package as the reason why.

Providing an attractive financial incentive is not only key to attracting candidates, but also keeping them – 85% of social housing professionals say it is important that their organisations are clear about how pay levels and pay rises are set, whilst only 41% believe their employers actually do this.

Information around the current candidate ‘market rate’, i.e. how much prospective employees could earn in line with regional and national averages for their seniority and skillsets, can be found in the latest Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019. Employers can use our insights to help build a reward proposition attractive to social housing professionals.

2. Be flexible

Only 62% of social housing professionals rate their work-life balance positively. When asked what they would ideally change in order to improve this, almost a third (29%) said their working hours, as well as the introduction of flexible working. As structural reform continues to affect the social housing sector and the use of fixed term contracts becomes increasingly common, employers may need to adopt a more agile approach to working practices in order to gain access to the skills they need.

Making it clear from the very beginning of the recruitment process that flexible working options are available demonstrates employer concern for the wellbeing of staff, and facilitates success and career progression for those who may – due to family commitments or otherwise – find steady professional development more of a challenge.

3. Upskill your employees

Over the last year, employers across the social housing sector say they have had difficulty recruiting both for experienced individual contributors (32%) and middle-management roles (23%). Promising candidates opportunities for upskilling at the recruitment stage, and delivering on them in a timely fashion, can help both engage and retain talent and ensure that skills gaps are supplanted, keeping service delivery on track.

The ongoing pressure on the social housing sector, perpetuated in part by changes to legislation and ongoing structural reform, will require the most skilled and experienced professionals to ensure deliverables are met. Engaging potential candidates with a proposition that is attractive, sustainable and provides scope for progression will be essential to maintaining a steady course.

Find out the current market rates for salaries within social housing by requesting your copy of the Hays Salary Guide, or alternatively please contact your local consultant to discuss your recruitment needs.

About this author

Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.


What Workers Want Report

What Workers Want Report 2022 now available

Is your approach to learning at work up to scratch? Get your copy of our latest What Workers Want Report to find out.


Salary Guide 2022

Access the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2022

Check out the latest market insights in our Spring Quarterly Update.


Use our salary checker

Use our salary checker

Whether you are looking for a new job or a pay rise, it helps to understand what the typical salaries are and what your potential earnings could be.

Take a look


Register a job

Register a vacancy

Have a vacancy? Fill in your details here.


Contact us

Find your nearest Hays office

Hays has offices across the whole of the UK. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.