Average pay in the housing sector rose by 2.3% in the period 2018/19 and health-benefit packages are on the rise, according to a new survey on pay and benefits.

The 2019 Total Reward Survey – carried out by EMA Business and Management Consultancy Ltd (EMA), a company that provides recruitment, training and governance services to more than 200 housing providers each year – aims to give an accurate picture of the benefits and pay packages on offer.

The survey, which is in its fifth year, found that 41.3% of respondents had made a pay award of between 2.1% and 2.5%, and 92% offered some level of pay increase.

It also shows a significant shift in housing providers wanting to improve or maintain the health of their employees. The number offering reduced fees for sports club or gym membership jumped from 51% in 2018 to 70% this year. In 2016, this stood at 48%.

Medical screening also rose by 6%, exercise classes from 34% to 49% and vaccinations up from 69% to 76%. Allergy testing is also on the increase.

The survey also sought to examine whether the housing sector’s offer was competitive with similar-sized commercial organisations. Questions were asked to see if providers currently offered or were considering golden handshakes, flexible benefit schemes (that allow people to pick and choose their package or substitute an element for another) and Long-Term Incentive Plans. This showed some awareness, but few currently use such tactics.

The research also showed that job shares, compressed hours and part-time working were on the decrease, as organisations instead opted to increase formal and informal work from home flexibility and annualised hours arrangements.

Around 62% of organisations said they publish a ‘Gender Pay Gap Report’ irrespective of the number of employees and 10% of these envisaged having to make changes to their reward programme as a result of their reports findings.

Anne Elliott, Managing Director at EMA, said: “This is the most comprehensive study of the housing sector across England and Wales, enabling HR leads to make strong comparisons between previous years and support boards and executives to make decisions on future pay and benefit awards.

“There is a real need to not only retain talent in the housing sector, but also to attract new talent to it. The results show that housing providers are responding to increased employee expectations on agile working, time off for voluntary work and health-released benefits which should help attract younger job seekers. However, there is also a clear lag in the ‘harder’ pay and bonus benefits offered by the private sector, which suggests attracting talent from outside housing may continue to be a challenge. Pay is certainly only one part of the picture, and I hope the survey helps providers make informed decisions about how best to structure their incentive and reward packages.”

For further information please contact either Anne Elliott or Lorna Lee on 01926 887272. We can also provide additional information on request to other providers interested in the results.