Inside Housing Innovation Index

Published: 24 Mar 2016 By Inside Housing

Innovation Index

The results of Inside Housing’s Innovation Index may startle. A stunning 61 social landlords outperform the typical UK workplace to provide a culture and environment that fosters innovation.

Our research partners at the Dolphin Index analysed of surveys filled in by over 3,000 employees from more than 356 housing associations, ALMOs and local authority landlords filled to plots what it calls a ‘photograph’ of each social landlord’s culture.

The results, represented in spidergrams, show the average cultural scores for the housing sector and for the UK. The housing sector is significantly more innovative than UK organisations as a whole.

Mark Brown, chief executive of Dolphin Index, says: “You can have all the strategies you like for doing things better, but if you have a poor culture, your organisation is never going to dance,” he says. “If the culture is slow and rigid, those sorts of initiatives tend to die off because they are too counter-cultural – they go against the grain.”

How does it work?

Dolphin Index collects data on the culture of organisations using a 68-part survey – based on the work of Swedish professor Göran Ekvall – completed by as many staff as possible.

Results are analysed to draw out performance in 13 areas.  Some are more obvious than others, for example, do staff perceive that they have time to come up with ideas?  Do they feel free to make their own decisions, or are they closely supervised?  Is there a certain playfulness in the workplace, or is it dour and humourless?  Do people feel that their achievements are recognised at work?

Stress levels are also considered, with less stress and more ‘idea time’ generally being a good thing (this is an ‘ideation profile’). 

Only organisations that scored higher on the Dolphin innovation score than the UK norm are included in the Inside Housing Innovation Index. 

With the sector facing significant change, innovation is crucial.  “It’s just not an option to do the same thing you’ve always done in the same way,” says Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). “And often what forces landlords to keep on their toes is government policy.”

Doing more with less requires new ways of working. And to do that, social landlords need to attract the best talent, too.

The index reveals clear groupings among the three flavours of social landlord. Housing associations score highest as a group, followed by ALMOs and then local authorities.


While the comparisons are interesting, what counts isn’t how each organisation performs compared to its fellow landlords; it’s about each organisation’s culture as measured now, and how that differs from the culture to which it aspires.


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