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Elle has always returned to a career in housing

Elle sees herself as a housing boomerang. Here she says why she has always returned to working in the housing sector through her 15-year career:

“I started my HR career in the private sector working with a London based HR consultancy. During my time there, I worked with a number of housing associations and got to know more about what they do and the type of organisations they are. I always admired the genuine value of caring about people in the communities around them; something that seemed an intrinsic value for HA’s.

Over the last 15 years, I have gone back and forth between the private sector and housing associations, working with United Welsh, Cardiff Community Housing Association and Hafod, before joining Tai Calon this summer.

I have developed a keen passion for employee engagement and wellbeing, and have learned more about transformational culture and change management while working in the private sector. A role that was dedicated to learning and development enabled me to support people with their professional development and shaped my understanding of the barriers that were holding employees back.

It’s great to see how rewarding it can be for both the individual and organisation when you take the time to understand employees through engagement, learning, and wellbeing practices and strategies.

Personally, I’ve found that it has been really important for me to experience new ideas, new skills and new ways of working, and my approach of moving into different roles and sectors has built those elements each time. Despite leaving the housing sector a few times now, I do feel that I bring back those ideas and skills, and share them with my colleagues, peers and team. My views and opinions have developed and grown richer for my varied experiences.

The housing sector has become increasingly creative with its offering to employees over the last few years, and in particular working within the community and supporting local businesses, allowing those places to thrive. Social Housing has such an important part to play within the community setting, and I feel that they shape and support the breakdown of social norms and expectations, working collaboratively and cross-community. No other business or organisation can do that in the agile way housing can. I feel that we now need to support longer term ambitions, such as the Future Generations Act in Wales – this has been pivotal to shaping new businesses and getting people to think longer term, shaping housing offerings and communities for the future.

I also think that housing associations have become less transactional, and there’s a better understanding of how we can build partnerships and links with the community that hold a real benefit.

Having lost my previous role due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the position at Tai Calon came at a time when I felt ready to combine my skills in both HR and organisational development, and return to the housing sector again. Applying for a job during a pandemic brought a whole new challenge. The interview was surreal and I hadn’t realised how much I relied on body language. Though there was the benefit of having prompts for things I wanted to say!

I have mostly been working from home and doing things virtually, but the office reopened recently for roles that needed to be based there, and we are working as an organisation to look at how we can embrace a hybrid style of working in the future. I have gone to the office a few times, and it has been a great opportunity to meet some people, even though it’s 2m apart! The approach we are taking to agile working is going well and has been a big benefit for people over the last few months.

I have missed some of those interactions where you can bring people together to talk about things, and it would be great to be able to meet the whole team physically. However, it’s phenomenal how people have risen to the challenge of remote working so quickly.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity Tai Calon has now, and this will be an exciting time to be part of an evolving organisation. There are a lot of new faces in the leadership team, and there’s a real appetite for change. The whole HR and OD team will get to work on things they haven’t before, and deliver even more for our people and residents, so I’m really looking forward to playing a key part in that.”

Elle Elliott is Head of HR and Organisational Development at Tai Calon.