By Shauna Hutchinson, Resident Engagement Manager, Network Homes.

From an employer’s perspective, it’s likely people will come and go. They’ll be invested in developing skills, delivering quality service, and building rapport with the people living in the homes they provide.

The people in the organisation will see their career as a journey to come in, do their best, and succeed – whether that means a senior role, sidewards moves to areas of interest, or looking for external opportunities to share their learning and continue to reach their goals.

We know some people in organisations as the veterans: the long-standing colleagues with an abundance of knowledge of the services and residents, whose potential loss has a significant impact on the energy and knowledge within a team.

Making a house (or flat) a home is different. The memories made and special touches someone adds to their space are what keeps them in place: the sense of security by being able to lay down roots and to feel safe in knowing their home is theirs, for however long possible.

When you take into consideration the potential turnover of staff in an organisation and compare it to the longevity of residents’ tenure, it makes you think slightly differently (or it should).

A close friend is currently purchasing her first home with a housing association and the questions she asks me about the legacy of some social housing providers have made me dig deep into my brain for the answers. I’m not exactly prepared for those conversations at 4am on a Saturday, but I digress.

When I considered the responses to some of the questions she asked, I had a realisation: there are residents who may have seen many iterations of their housing provider. Renaming, rebranding, cultural shifts, mergers, restructures – all the things that seniors have a responsibility to do to ensure the longevity of the provider.

But, and it’s a big but, how much support do residents get through the changes and the potential impact to them? Potentially losing a lifelong relationship with one of the team’s veterans, the people they’ve shared their personal stories with (good, bad, and everything in between), or the people who come into a business to make their mark and support people to the best of their ability – what happens to the resident when the person committed to their case leaves?

You’re probably thinking, “well, we have systems to make sure this information remains,” but, I’d challenge you to think again. Residents often say that things are always changing and it’s confusing. So, consider your own experience when going through organisational change.
How do you move through the change curve? What’s available internally to help you through it?

Now, think of the residents again: what can you do to support them through the changes they’ve no control or influence over? What do you value from effective communication from your employer to feel in a safe pair of hands? How can you convert the personal relationships,
built by people, into the legacy of ‘the business’ to truly represent the name above the door?

Some of the things you could consider include:

  • Sharing and celebrating your history with residents and how it links to your core values and objectives
  • Creating shared understanding to communicate why you’ve changed/are changing (internal and external factors)
  • Involving new starters in the story and reminding your existing workforce of a consistent message that helps relate to changes residents experience, from a business perspective
  • Being honest with your people and residents about the challenges you anticipate – but tell them what you’re doing in the meantime to troubleshoot or minimise impact to both groups.

It probably sounds too simple, but it’s often the simple things we forget or push to the side when the big, difficult, complex decisions and tasks rear their ugly faces. In doing so, you may be able to align residents to the difficult balance of being a supportive, reliable landlord
and a competitive, trustworthy employer.

That’s why our past matters to our residents’ future.