The true cost of hiring in Social Housing

At a time where everyone including Housing associations are feeling the pinch, costs are being scrutinised more than ever and recruitment spend is often an area in the budget looked at for a ‘quick fix’ saving.
Aleks Smolski HeadShot

A common approach I’ve seen Social Housing providers take has been to apply a blanket approach to reducing agency spend by restricting the agency fees that they work to. This strategy can be short sighted and often does in fact the opposite of what it’s intended to achieve.

The demand for external recruitment is booming – job vacancies rose to an all-time record at over 1.3 million in the last 12 months (data from the ONS) and there is a mass shortage of skilled candidates to fill the roles. Therefore, most recruitment businesses across the country are seeing huge levels of demand with many struggling to keep up with the constant influx of new vacancies.

Once pressure and demand are applied to a recruitment process, there comes a point where either the quality of that process starts to become effected or you reach a point where you are unable to meet demand. This increased pressure and workload could specifically mean – Increased time to successfully hire, losing out on high-calibre candidates and a lower quality of service and commitment.

To combat this and avoid any reduction in the quality of process and service, many recruitment firms including ourselves have had to painfully turn away vacancies and potential clients to focus on delivering for our existing clients or working only with clients who value a true partnership approach.

We are in a time where the recruitment agency you choose to partner with is more important than ever before. Treat your agency like a business partner and an extension of your business – with your company culture and best interests at heart. Give them your commitment by working with them exclusively and give them a real incentive to fill your role. This will undoubtedly result in a higher level of service and results.

The harsh reality is, what a lot of housing providers don’t always see is that by underpaying the agencies, working on a multi-agency basis and not truly partnering with their agency – behind closed doors their vacancies aren’t being treated as a top priority amongst the other roles that they are working on and the clients that they are truly partnered with. Remember, the more commitment that you give your agency partner – the more commitment and hard work they will give you in return.

Try to imagine your spend with a recruitment agency like an investment in the stock market or a product that you would buy to use. The more time, research and money that you spend with your recruitment partner, typically the higher your potential return on investment. In practical terms, candidates will be higher quality, better onboarded, more engaged, motivated and will stay with you for longer. The ‘buy cheap, buy twice” motto is as relevant to recruitment agencies as it is any other service or product. What may cost you more in the short term, will save you more in the long run.

It is also essential for Housing associations to have a genuine commitment to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in their recruitment process to attract the best talent available and having a robust EVP (employee value proposition). I will cover these important topics in the next editions article.

If you work for a Housing association and are looking for effective ways to reduce your agency spend, please do reach out to me for an exploratory conversation.


Aleks Smolski, Manager

01252 954 953

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