Registered NDIS Provider

5 January 2022

Challenges like COVID-19 can bring out the best in people and organisations. For Hume Community Housing its response to the crisis has landed them two Employer of Choice Awards together with awards acknowledging Hume’s customer focus.

Hume provides services and homes to over 9,000 customers across NSW, mainly in Sydney and Hunter regions, with over 4,000 affordable and social housing properties in its portfolio.

According to Sharn Chisholm, Hume’s Executive Manager, People, Culture and Communications, during COVID-19 Hume saw increased demand for services and a concerning rise in domestic violence.

“With the spike in customer demand we decided to increase our investment in the health and wellbeing of our employees by introducing two new online and in-app counselling services. These provided training in areas like de-escalating domestic violence situations and creating online special interest groups for employees to connect in meaningful ways,” she said.

“The in-app counselling proved very successful with 61% of employees accessing the services compared to the national average access rate of 2-4%.

“Ultimately, when you invest in employee experience you are also able to translate that into an improved customer experience, something in which Hume is heavily invested,” said Chisholm.

The Employer of Choice Awards were in the 2021 NSW State Business Awards and the 2021 Hunter Business Awards. The key customer related award was in the 2021 Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence in Social Enterprise where the way Hume empowers customers to get involved in their local communities was a key driver.

“Hume’s Community Cohesion Teams, in this case Western Sydney, foster social impact and community harmony through customer programs and activities, thoughtful neighbourhood plans and building genuine partnerships that offer customers, and the wider community, opportunities to set housing and employment goals whilst learning and practicing new skills,” said Chisholm.

These actions she said are translating into more connected, engaged and vibrant communities.

“In addition, during COVID-19 restrictions, Hume further assisted potential customers by safely promoting open home showings using videos to provide virtual 360-degree tours on its website and social networks, as well as advertised in key areas,” said Chisholm. “Covid has shown us that the importance of having a home has never been more important, so we took steps to make sure we could continue to safely housing families.’    

Other awards won by Hume this year include Outstanding Employer in the 2021 Hunter Diversity and Inclusion Awards and runner up in the 2021 PowerHousing Australia Awards, run for the community housing sector. They even scored an international award ‘Freshworks for Good’ in the 2021 Freshworks Refresh Global Awards for efforts in fast tracking improved communication with customers during Covid using channels customers prefer to use – including Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and live chat.