Job management for housing associations frequently involves communicating between a number of different stakeholders, such as the management committee, housing officers, finance departments, maintenance officers and various subcontractors. The hierarchical and complex organisational structures often cause delays, as information has to move through a number of different departments. 

A survey by Unite the Union found that 62% of the 320 housing association employees said they had experienced work-related stress in the past year, while nearly half felt their workplace was not good for their mental health.

Siobhan Endean, national officer at Unite, said that the findings were “profoundly disturbing” and it was clear that workplace stress was at “epidemic levels” in the housing association workforce. The report also found that 40% of respondents said they did not work for a well-managed organisation, while 42% said they did not feel valued at work.

It’s time things changed. In a world that’s increasingly digital, where remote working is now a normal part of everyday life, housing associations and councils need to act now to address their inefficient working practices , or risk falling out of step with the modern world of work. 

So, what steps can you take to improve? 

1. Embrace transparency

A transparent company culture can impact an entire industry and increase productivity amongst the workforce. According to the Bonusly’s 2019 Engagement and Modern Workplace Report, highly Engaged employees are 2.5x more likely to report working for a transparent organisation than Actively Disengaged employees. 

The first steps to transparency are building strong foundations of trust. This means ensuring that your workforce has the right communications and collaboration tools. Outdated communication tools can be a major barrier to transparency. Especially if you’re working across different departments and with a remote workforce, like housing associations often do. Make sure you have an easy and efficient way for the workforce to connect with one another and to share crucial information. 

Other things you can do:

  • Share challenges
  • Share progress
  • Share success

When it comes to solving complicated challenges, you never know whether someone else might have a simple solution unless you share. Recognising the successes of the organisation, its departments, and its individuals with everyone can be a major boost to workforce morale. 

Another step you can take is making the mental shift from asking “is it absolutely necessary to share this?” to “is it absolutely necessary to conceal this?” It’s as simple as that. 

2. Cultivate strong interdepartmental relationships

Strong relationships are the foundation of every healthy organisation. They not only improve people’s wellbeing, but also drive workforce engagement, but it doesn’t happen automatically. Cultivating these strong relationships can be especially challenging when there are a number of different departments in the mix, all with varying vested interests. 

Building strong relationships in the workforce takes time, effort, and sometimes, dedicated team-building activities which can be done remotely. Research suggests companies should be creating spaces that encourage, and even generate “collisions.” Zoom pub quiz anyone? 

3. Inspire workforce autonomy

Everyone hates being micromanaged. Not only is it ineffective, but it does very little to inspire trust between the various stakeholders. If you hired someone to work for you as an employee or contractor, you should trust them to manage their responsibilities effectively and get the job done! 

You can put workforce autonomy into action by allowing people to exercise choice, let go of the 9-5 mentality and create decision-making opportunities. Shift the culture from being held accountable to embracing accountability as people take on and own their initiatives. 

4. Create stronger links with subcontractors

The housing association sector is heavily reliant on a network of subcontractors, whether that be for maintenance or whole estate management. Making sure the ties you have with these external parties are as strong as they can be is paramount to the successful running of a housing association. This means making sure communication with these stakeholders is as seamless and easy as possible. We’ll touch on this more in the next step…

5. Welcome new technologies

We’ve mentioned the importance of ensuring your company has the right communications and collaboration tools. But we bet you don’t know just how life-changing this can be when housing associations get this technology right. 

Okappy is a communications and collaborations tool with a difference. It operates as a Market Network, which means that you’re not stuck with having to duplicate the information into another system when you work with external stakeholders. 

You can invite contractors, customers and sub-contractors as connections, so you can seamlessly send and receive jobs in real time. This means less information gets lost, less time is spent following up on the status of a job and an overall improved work-life balance for all. 

“I now work so many less hours a week. I can actually go on holiday and enjoy myself. I don’t have to be constantly on the phone every minute. It’s made my life so much easier. I don’t know what we’d do without it. Using Okappy is a no brainer!” – Kale Grieves, director at Liquid and Gas Ltd

Which of these steps are you going to take first?

Even a truly amazing housing association will always be a work in progress, evolving in tandem with your organisation, it’s people and all the stakeholders involved. Our tip? Start with improving your relationships through the use of a digital communications and collaborations tool. It contributes to so many of the factors we discussed above, and is an initiative that’ll make everyone feel good. 

To see how easy it can be to implement, check out our free trial or request a demo to see Okappy in action!

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