Housing temporary workers became a major priority in the staffing industry over the past two years as Covid-19 cases surged in different cities across the United States and construction boomed across the country. As the Delta variant spreads, cities continue to build, and work continues to be remote for many, the need for temporary housing for employees remains high; yet with the current real estate market, options for housing are looking bleak and getting thinner by the day.
Healthcare and construction aren’t the only industries impacted; any company with “nomadic” employees who travel for extended periods of time is facing this challenge, from sports teams to film/television crews. Staffing agencies across the country have their work cut out for them, navigating housing while working to accommodate the specific requirements and needs of their employees. Whether it’s ample space for pets, indoor commodities like high-speed internet and work desks, or even extra bedrooms to be converted into home gyms and offices, staffing agencies need a better way to meet the needs of their workers.
Partnering with a third party can significantly help staffing agencies; companies that specialize in this type of workforce “housing-on-demand” typically have the ability to create necessary accommodations rather than pick from existing inventory like corporate housing companies. Since they have relationships with furniture companies and other vendors, they can customize not only the location of the housing, but the amenities, layout, and more. These third-party businesses have found that perfect balance, pairing human expertise and powerful technology to provide superior quality service by cutting time in half, saving money, eliminating the need for securing utilities, furniture, and more.
So what are the best ways for staffing agencies to navigate the housing crisis and secure housing for workers? Consider these five top tips:
- Align expectations with staff. Speak with your employees before looking at any temporary housing. Make sure you understand them, their needs, what will take priority when they move, and what they’ll need from a work standpoint. It’s important to be upfront about what is actually possible to accommodate in a given market for their specific budget. While all of the requirements might not end up met, if patient enough, the closest match can be found.
- Make a game plan. Know what is needed aka the “non-negotiables” but also know what you would like employees to have while living in these temporary homes. It’s important to have a list, so you can be ready to work with the third party that will be booking the housing. “Non-negotiables” can range from high-speed internet to a quiet neighborhood to two bedrooms. What workers may want, but not necessarily need can be a big backyard, a dining room, a lot of natural light, etc. The more non-negotiables you choose, the harder it will be to find a place in this market and the more the price is likely to increase, so make sure employees know it will be easier to find a place if they limit non-negotiables to the essentials.
- Give a heads up. When securing temporary housing, try to notify the third party as early as possible when you know there will be an order. In notifying early, there is a better chance that you can find the exact or close-to-exact housing you need for your nomadic workers. Depending on the market, vacancy rates can be low, so having the flexibility to find accommodations just at the right moment helps in securing the place that will be the right fit.
- Be flexible. With the current market, it’s important to be cognizant of the difficulties you may face when securing housing. Therefore, it is highly recommended to be flexible. Staffing management should be able to make concessions when necessary that won’t sacrifice their top priorities. This might mean being open to including a brief stay at a hotel while waiting for the perfect house to open up. The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll find that perfect house that ticks all of the boxes.
- Accept ASAP. Housing options that the third party finds should be accepted as quickly as possible. Available units go fast, many workers need housing and remote workers have also become a part of the temporary housing mix. With Housing-on-Demand, the pool of inventory is extremely wide as organizations have the ability to cross over into other markets, meaning you’re also competing with 12 month lease applicants and even vacationers in some areas. It is also important to note that an influx of lease applicants come in on the weekends. The infrastructure and construction industry show an increase in spring months (April-May), which staffing management should be aware of when Spring approaches.
As the need for nomadic workers increases across the country, we must remember that they deserve accommodations that feel like a home away from home. Customized housing solutions that are designed for the nomadic workforce are an answer for many staffing managers who look to provide the best housing they can for their employees. Housing often gets overlooked by management, but it can have a profound effect on everything from workplace productivity to culture.