The Housing/HR quandary: Hello, we’ve been here all along


Hello my name’s Helen and I work in social housing.

Until recently this seemed akin to a confession at an anonymous peer support group. We’ve been tarnished by the pre-conception of undesirables pushing their sofas into their front gardens in the summer, drinking from cans and decorating their affordable housing with patriotic displays. In past elections the main concern of many people with regards to social housing has been its proximity and how it might devalue their nice privately owned house. And it’s true, if you have a good job and your own nice house, then you don’t need or want social housing to be part of your life.

That was until those nice houses crept further and further out of reach of the “ordinary” person. Cue all the political parties desperately scrambling to make up for lost time, throwing ever more unrealistic and ridiculous house building figures into the mix. It all smacks of too little too late and a total misunderstanding of what the sector is about. But then that’s nothing new.

Talk about the elephant in the room. It seems all to easy to claim we’re “misunderstood”, with complicated problems that are too difficult to handle. But it’s the issues of the most deprived in society we’re concerned about, and as has been demonstrated all too clearly, they just don’t disappear if you ignore them. The rug the government has been sweeping us under is starting to look decidedly lumpy.

I’m trying to remain humble as I’ve almost been guilty of the same thing myself. For six years or so I’ve had my head down delivering a back office Human Resources function. There’s been lots to do in building the service from the ground up, and there will always be more. It’s not like I’ve been unaware of what’s been happening on the front line, but now I’ve had chance to lift my head above the parapet I’ve realised why so many people are passionate about housing. Talk about the importance of linking HR and business strategy, it’s like HR squared – a powerful eye opener.

I feel like I need to apologise to my regular blog readers, who normally expect something purely HR related from my writing. But I guess the wider message here is clear. It’s about addressing problems using the talent and resources that are already at your disposal, not just in the government/housing quandary but inside businesses themselves. Sometimes HR might feel like the organisational outcasts but we need to make our voices heard. Hello…we’ve been here all along.

4 thoughts on “The Housing/HR quandary: Hello, we’ve been here all along

  1. Ian Walker

    Some very goods points raised!
    David Orr (Head of the National Housing Federation) hit the nail on the head recently regarding the promise by all parties to build more homes “we are not in a home ownership crisis… we are in a housing crisis”
    Take note anytime you are out and about; whether its in a queue or just over hearing a conversation from people talking, something relating to housing generally pops up. If you havent seen someone in a while one of the questions that will come up is “where are you living now?”
    Its important to everyone.
    Its often the only profession that stands shoulder to shoulder with a doctor if anyone you know realises your profession they will ask you about an issue:
    What do you do?
    Im a doctor?
    Oh great, you see ive had this rash…
    Same in housing:
    Oh you work in housing, im so sick of where i live how can i move? (Trust me… it happens!)
    The work everyone connected to these organisations does is often overlooked considering how genuinely important it is to everyone.
    Everything starts with housing. The opportunity to settle and build on other factors in life; health, independence, employment, friendship, studies.
    Its the first rung on the ladder of Maslows heirachy.
    Every single day, every single connection by staff has the opportunity to help someones life and that is sometimes all the motivation that is needed. People working in the sector are generally passionate about their role because they understand just how much they are relied on. Whether its governments or anyone; to disregard the work of those in housing organisations is to disregard the needs of the public. Anyone does that, and they lose the faith of those who ultimately got them where they are today.

  2. I guess I’d count as “one of your regular blog readers” but to me you’re making a (to me) blindingly obvious HR point: HR exists to make work better so that the people in the organisation can and want to deliver the services well that the organisation exists to provide (housing in your case but the same applies to any industry or sector)

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