Overworked and Under-resourced - Housing Professionals in Wales Face Workforce Dilemma
With all the challenges faced by housing professionals in 2023 – from planning conditions to materials shortages – having the in-house resources to make the best of a bad situation is essential. Unfortunately, news coming out of Wales suggests this is not the case, leaving homebuilders uncertain where to turn as the housing crisis worsens.
A report from the Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) Housing Futures Cymru panel has shown that 43% of housing professionals are facing increased workloads, with “a significant lack of resources to meet demand” set to impact service delivery for tenants, residents and communities.
Overworked but Motivated…For Now
This is a concerning trend that mirrors widespread concern around the support – or lack thereof – being provided to homebuilders. This support is often understood to mostly cover financial incentives, such as Help to Buy (although, the Help to Buy – Wales scheme has actually been extended to March 2025), and relaxed planning conditions; however, Housing Futures Cymru has highlighted the need for investment in the workforce, noting that 85% of frontline housing professionals still value the sense of purpose their role gives them, even as pressures mount.
So, on the bright side, there seems to still be a high level of professional pride within the industry – but without proper support, will this motivation remain high? And what action is needed to ensure morale amongst workforces in the industry – one of the few beacons of hope from this report – doesn’t drop?
An Uphill Struggle to Hit Targets
5,272 new homes were built from 2021-22. The Welsh Government have set the target of 12,000 new homes per year to meet demand, suggesting the pressure on housing professionals is only set to increase if no action is taken.
And therein lies the crux of the issue.
Without adequate government support for social housing providers, staff are under significant pressure to deliver high standards of service for existing tenants, let alone have capacity to facilitate the extra housing required to meet targets.
We reached out to Andrea Gardner, Director of Llanelli-based new homes consultancy Two Can Properties & Estates Limited, to get the inside track on the challenges currently being faced by Welsh housing providers, and the knock-on effects these have on homebuyers and tenants:
“It is indeed a challenging time for customers to feel confident of what they are getting from the onset, whether buying or renting. With a variety of supported schemes that they will be offered – Help to Buy Wales incentives, shared ownership, rental options, etc. – it is a hard task to keep on top of things. It is the developer/builder’s responsibility to make sure they know what they are going to provide to the customer from point of planning being applied for. You must be customer ready and think customer ready. If you are not, you will waste money.”
Build to sell developers looking to tighten budgets and ride out the slow market are not in a position to increase recruitment until more green shoots start appearing, again increasing the workload of a stretched team.
Whilst on the surface, this suggests more hurdles for homebuilders to overcome, opportunity could be rife for Welsh developers who are able to shrewdly address resource shortages without overcommitting finances.
In times of hardship, outsourcing processes can be an invaluable way to expand resources when it may not be feasible or responsible to create new roles in-house.
The growing influence of PropTech is a great way for housing professionals to increase productivity while easing their workload, by streamlining tasks, automating admin and facilitating self-service of information for home users.
At Classic Folios and Spaciable, we have partnered with over 250 developers across the UK, acting as an extension of their in-house sales and customer care resources. Our custom-branded, plot-specific Home User Guides remove the time and effort involved in creating bespoke literature for home users and utilise our expert team of Editors, not only freeing up developers’ time but also ensuring the final result is of the highest possible standard, rather than a hastily collated Word document with formatting and styling inconsistencies. Trust us, we’ve seen it all!
Furthermore, our award-winning portal, Spaciable, digitalises a number of manual tasks, allowing laborious tasks to be accomplished at the click of a button. This not only eases the pressure on housing professionals but also ensures a higher standard of resident experience. And with prices starting from £1 per plot, per month, this is an incredibly cost-effective way to improve efficiency. To book an obligation-free demo, please click here.
The importance of having a resolute system and set of processes in place was highlighted by Gardner:
“Having a platform that is usable to staff that offers clarity around the facts of each customer, especially as we see the workforce move around the industry sector, is paramount. Keeping communication flowing smoothly and quickly is key, and with the right people who can pick up the data and action effectively any solutions necessary, will save the business thousands in a moment. At the same time, this will satisfy the customer and the business, keeping your brand respected, proving you meet your clients’ expectations.”
The property industry is indisputably going through a testing period and the CIH’s report suggests that housing providers in Wales need to be exploring ways of alleviating some of the pressure on their workforce, without compromising productivity.
Gardner reiterated the importance of keeping the workforce motivated:
“Frontline professionals facing the customers need to have a valued role and this can only be achieved with the right support in place and the team all understanding their roles. The right support makes this work for your business and your staff, who will feel supported in their workplace. It’s simple: happy staff, happy customers, good business.”
Are you ready to maximise your resources and ease workforce pressure? Contact Classic Folios today!