Market trends in Housing

Market trends in Housing
Published: 7 April 2022

When speaking with clients, we are often asked what the current trends are in the market and it is fair to say, it has been the busiest but most challenging time in recruitment. From The Great Resignation to the War for Talent, Tom Neely, Housing Practice Lead at Berwick Partners explains some of the latest market trends in Housing.

The Great Resignation

This phrase has been coined by the media to highlight the influx of roles coming to the market. This is, in part, down to organisations holding firm during the pandemic and now looking to increase their capacity as they look forward into 2022 and the new financial year. In January we saw an uplift in roles, however this is not uncommon – as we all know, people reflect on their careers over the festive break and decide that they are ready for a new challenge.

We could look at the great resignation in a different way however in that the great resignation has become the great aspiration – employees are aspiring to proactively make the life they want and employees have more opportunities to do this than ever before. In my opinion, as organisations emerge from the pandemic and adapt their agile working strategies – this is where we will see a ‘spike’ in resignations over the coming months. Leaders must appreciate that there is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach and they need to understand how each team works best – being more flexible than ever before. To ensure high levels of performance, organisations must drive a high level of work/life balance whilst finding innovative ways to drive collaboration rather than simply bringing staff into offices five days a week. In a recent LinkedIn poll that I launched, 43% voted that they would be open to exploring a new role for a better work-life balance, against 29% voting for career progression, 19% for higher remuneration and 10% for a fully remote role.

The War for Talent

Yet another phrase that we have seen being used recently; from our perspective this is something that started before the pandemic, the pandemic just simply caused a hiatus. The war on talent has been put in the spotlight however given the pressures of coming out of the pandemic with the customers demanding for more and for it quicker than ever before but also given the volume of roles being recruited and the introduction of brand-new roles such as building safety (despite the recent government announcement) and carbon management, this is more prevalent than it was before.

Given the Social Housing White Paper and a re-aligned focus to the customer, clients are looking for leaders to be more strategic, more collaborative and with more emotional intelligence than ever before. An example of this is that a Property Director can no longer solely be a siloed technical expert in their organisation, it is imperative that being a subject matter expert is only scratching the service in this role. They have to collaborative with their customer teams to educate customers on net zero, work closely with finance to understand their investment budgets aligned with their net-zero carbon targets and they have to work closely with development to re-engineer new properties or lead on latent defects. Property now has to the golden thread across an organisation and means so much more pressure on leadership styles.

With the being said however, and given my point around agile working, these well-rounded leaders are in high demand, and they have more options than ever before. Given remote and hybrid working means a high achieving Director of Assets currently based in the South East could realistically have multiple opportunities across the UK. This may make them less invested in your process. We are urging clients to be more flexible in their approach, offering 1-2-1 coffees prior to interviews and to really get under the skin of the person – it’s also vital that you work at pace and not keep to a rigid recruitment process which has been a luxury before the pandemic. This is a ‘candidate driven market’ and clients must go over and above a normal recruitment process otherwise they will lose candidates throughout process.

A need for Emerging Talent

A conversation that we are finding with our clients is their concern around succession planning and whether their ‘number two’ is at the level to move into their role given all the conflicting agendas you having to deal with it. Despite some of the emerging talent not having the experience of an Executive level, we are often finding that emerging talent have stronger collaborative skills and the emotional intelligence to understand the need to take peers on a journey. We have seen this work incredibly well in a number of assignments recently, however if a client is looking to promote or recruit a ‘step up’ candidate, it is vital that the infrastructure is there for them to succeed – a successful Executive who has experience that they can lean on, a stronger peer group in housing if they are coming from out of sector and/or an experienced mentor external to the organisation.

To find out more about our Emerging Leaders Programme, please click here.

The next 6 months with the move to truly hybrid working will be incredibly interesting however the challenges for associations as noted above will no doubt continue throughout the year. Notwithstanding this, it will be an incredibly interesting year for the sector and if you’re interested in hearing more about some of the key trends that we are seeing in the sector – please do get in contact.

Tom Neely is focused on recruiting senior management and leadership roles across Social Housing providers.

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