Or; The Best Lockdown Survival Kit For Hiring Managers in the Housing Sector
It has come to our attention that many of the UK’s workforce are stuck at home and by that logic, can’t do the things they would normally do on a day to day basis, including running a busy housing team, department or organisation.
If you are such a person, especially if you’re in the housing sector, and you’re looking to hire new staff, you may be asking yourself ‘how can I do it when I can’t get out to meet anyone for a while?’
We are a recruitment company with a focus on the social housing sector and we are perfectly placed to help people that hire specialised housing staff source the very best temp and perm staff.
The reason we are so perfectly placed is that since we opened our doors in 2007, we have immersed ourselves into your world, constantly learning about the sector and its nuances so we can understand the job specs we are asked to fill. Most importantly it’s so that we can provide the businesses in your industry with accurately matched candidates of the highest quality in all types of roles, including but not exclusively:
- Housing Management & Income Recovery
- Repairs & Maintenance
- Leasehold & Homeownership
- Development & Regeneration
- Customer Services and Administration
When we say immersed, that’s exactly what we mean. To understand the intricacies of who you are and what you do, we enlisted the help of a social housing CIH trainer to teach us the ways and we’ve supported the CIH & NHF Annual Housing Conferences for a decade. Like we said, we’ve immersed ourselves into your world and not because we had a job lot of mugs and keyrings to get shot of.
That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the social aspects of national conferences but we attend all the plenary and panels meetings as well as workshops, we spoke to people to find out what they need, we got to understand the recruitment challenges and how we can help to overcome them and when we were finished and the last sip had been supped, we went back to HQ and devised a strategy to help an industry sector we genuinely believed in.
Hard Work Does Pay Off
In late 2019, Danny and I were honoured to be selected as the 2020 recruitment partner for the NLG (National Leasehold Group). Notwithstanding our own delight, we were welcomed into the group and immediately got involved, learning about the members, attending frontline meetings with Heads of Service to discuss any number of issues facing the industry and we have also made it a priority to listen what’s been said so we can act. A fundamental aspect of our business is to develop and nurture professional relationships (over time many of which have become personal) with NLG members as well as understanding – properly understanding – who you are, what you want and what we can do for you in the ever-changing world we are in.
Speaking of Change…
You may have noticed that we are in an incredibly strange period of limbo and we find ourselves on a war footing in peacetime. We’ve been all but confined to our homes with more toilet roll and pasta that can reasonably be considered acceptable and for many parents, discovering that the teachers in school weren’t the issue after all has come as a bit of a shock, but trundle forward we must.
The world hasn’t stopped. It’s merely taken the briefest of hiatuses so while the pause button has been temporarily pressed, we thought we’d offer our Social Housing Hiring Managers Survival Kit. The housing market will get back to their fighting weights soon enough and when they do, you don’t want to be playing catch up.
Selecting the most excellent candidates from our ever-expanding pool, interviewing them and ensuring they are qualified and capable of doing the job is the easy bit. However, since you can’t meet them (yet), you can’t take them on site visits or into the office to meet their teams and line managers (yet) and you can’t train them on your internal systems and processes (yet), what can you do?
So here we have it, the best lockdown survival kit for hiring managers in the housing sector.
Access To Systems Is Great; Access To People Is Better
Usually, when you recruit a new team member there are several practical steps you must take. They need access to the building or site as well as a clear understanding of the processes, protocols and practices, they need their email set up, they need access to the shared files and they need to know where the toilets are. However right now, your enforced remote worker needs to know that from day one they’re part of the team, their input is as useful and as valid as anyone else’s and you’re excited to have them on board.
If you don’t get the personal introduction right – even if there’s a dribble of hesitation or procrastination – you run the very real risk of your new hire thinking that their welfare is an afterthought and this can be insidious and damaging to your relationship. That’s before they’ve even had the chance to put their sandwiches in the metaphorical fridge.
The new hire is your responsibility. Don’t assume you can leave them alone to get on with it as soon as bum hits chair because you’ve got better things to do. You haven’t. Not right now. And remember, they’re remote so your input is vital. You don’t want to be the guy leaving the new hire hanging.
The housing sector is a good mix of project-based work and office work so what better course of action to take than to introduce them to the relevant stakeholders, let everyone put a face to a name, even if it’s on Skype, WhatsApp or the good old telephone. A casual conversation is so much more relaxing than a formal agenda-driven meeting with name badges and a PowerPoint presentation…
There are plenty of other ways in which to immerse your new hire – albeit remotely – into the corporate structure and culture. The buddy system works which allows newbie to ask questions, to set up an ally and to understand the nuance of the business. This builds foundations and in the industry we are in, is there anything more important than starting a project knowing the foundations are rock solid?
Coming full circle to the practical again and if you are giving out tablets, mobiles or laptops, whether that be in person or couriered to an address, Liquid have a ‘Remote Working Declaration’ that the candidate can sign acknowledging the ownership of any equipment and company protocols that must be adhered to whilst working off-site.
Some of our housing clients are still able to induct people on-site. Provided that social distancing can be maintained because you have a ludicrously large office, or everybody else is working from home, clients are going into work to carry out initial training for new starters. So, for some, this is also still an option.
Understanding Process….and Culture
So, you’ve got your new hire (from Liquid, naturally) but now what? You want them to start earning their money so it’s up to you to introduce them to how you do things. You should have your processes documented so you can ping it over for some enjoyable bedtime reading but if not, set up a video or voice call and go through it with them.
You don’t want to overload them on their first morning but it’s important they know the fundamentals before they’re out and about because once they’re in the field there may not be as many opportune moments for them to ask what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.
Of course, it’s only natural that a good hire will have particular ways of doing things and of solving problems but is that the way you want it done? You certainly don’t want them guessing so spending the time front-loading them with the right ways is the best way to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences further down the line.
The other vital element of integrating a new hire is how well they understand and immerse themselves into your company culture. Unlike your processes and procedures, a company culture is rarely written down. It’s inferred, it’s understood, people just ‘get it.’
It impacts their entire raison d’être, from how they communicate and ask questions to how they respond to and interact with their colleagues and the hierarchy and how strongly they feel like they’re part of something good. It’s important they’re both qualified for the job and they fit in. In this case, the two are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, at Liquid, that’s one element of a candidate’s personality we look at very carefully before putting them forward for a role. If they fit from a culture standpoint, they’re golden but if they don’t, it will be doomed to failure from minute one.
You Have One Shot
As the tired cliché goes, you have one chance to make a first impression, so you need to get it right. If you do and your new hire is on board with how you want things done, how effectively you communicate and what your expectations are then you have the makings of a productive team member. But… if you fudge your way through it you will be as much to blame for their inevitable failure to meet your standards and expectations as they are.
Now It’s Your Turn…
We want to hear from you. Have you inducted new hires remotely or indeed have you undergone induction as a new hire remotely? How did it go? Was it smooth sailing or did you have to navigate choppy waters? What worked? What didn’t? If you had swapped roles, what would you have done differently?
Sorry for all the questions but like you, we want to get it right first time, every time.
Just so you know, we are no strangers to hard work and throughout this period of uncertainty we are working day and night for our clients and candidates. We are here to help wherever and however we can.