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Why awards (still) matter

By Kelly Field
January 24, 2023

The 2023 awards season launched this month with entries opening for the likes of Inspiring Workplaces, Women in Housing and Housing Heroes. But are industry awards still relevant and justified at a time of hardship and cost constraint? Yes, says Creative Bridge consultant Kelly Field, as long as entries are for the right reasons and celebrate genuine innovation and excellence.

Hand holding an award trophy


Given the current squeeze on finances and increasing pressure on housing providers and other non-profit organisations to improve services, you may be thinking 2023 isn’t the year to be entering awards.

Last October, nearly 54,000 people signed a petition to cancel the annual UK Housing Awards ceremony, claiming it was a ‘lavish self-congratulatory event for the executives of housing associations and council housing departments’.

The event still went ahead but I don’t believe the petition was in vain. It was a timely reminder for organisations to be more strategic in their approach to entering awards and to think carefully about the rationale and costs involved. Any expenditure on awards has to be warranted against the backdrop of rent increases of up to seven per cent rent about to hit social housing tenants.

Most organisations acknowledge that this year’s decision on increasing rents was difficult, and they understand that times are particularly tough right now for many households. In response, providers have expanded money advice and welfare services, and some have gone the extra mile, with initiatives such as befriending schemes, furniture recycling and extra support for parent and toddler groups.

Often these projects are suggested by employees, who then work extra hours or volunteer their time and expertise to make them happen. It’s important employers recognise this, otherwise they risk losing staff at a time when there’s already a skills shortage.

Awards are about recognition and sharing best practice. When business is demanding for housing organisations and life is hard for the customers and communities they serve, it’s more important than ever to highlight the best of the best. Giving credit where it’s due generates pride that can benefit organisations inside and out. Award-winning employees feel valued, and customers are reassured to be associated with a successful brand.

Award ceremonies promote networking between housing professionals, residents, suppliers and stakeholders, which often leads to new partnerships and opportunities. The shift to more award ceremonies being held online is a real positive, which enables more people to attend and be recognised for their efforts. This approach also acknowledges the significant changes in working practices and business culture that have swept through society and the economy in recent years.

I was going to include some top tips for submitting award entries in this blog, but then I came across this quote from PRWeek award judge, Grace Davies-Redmond of John Doe Group. I think it sums things up perfectly:

“…remember your ‘why’. Why are you in this industry? What is it that you want to do, change or see more of? And what are you doing day to day to achieve it? It’s the daily work that matters.”

If you’ve got something you’re proud of and feel it’s reasonable to share and showcase it, we can help you get the acclaim it deserves. Ask our advice on the best project to submit and we’ll give you a free, honest review of your chances of getting a return on the time invested in the awards process. Please get in touch.