Almost two-thirds of Dublin companies losing staff to housing shortage, survey shows

The need to provide somewhere to stay for incoming staff is increasing across sectors including hospitality and care homes

Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell (left) has said more businesses are having to provide employees with accommodation supports. File photograph.

Almost two thirds of Dublin companies have lost staff or potential recruits because of the housing situation in the city, according to a new poll.

Sixty-two per cent of the roughly 200 companies taking part in Dublin Chamber’s latest Business Outlook survey said the housing crisis had impacted on their ability to attract or retain staff while 30% said they had to provide accommodation supports.

The importance of the issue to employers is reflected in other survey responses – the offer of flexible or remote working is considered the top factor in attracting or retaining staff, while an increase in the supply of housing was identified by 83 per cent as a key priority in the next budget, more than any other issue.

“Housing has long been a simmering issue for businesses and now this has taken a turn into the realms of businesses subsidising housing to retain and attract talent in Dublin,” said Aebhric McGibney, the Chamber’s director of public and international affairs.


“This should never be the case, and will have adverse effects on Dublin being a competitive place to start and indeed grow a business.”

Mr McGibney said even with extensive and substantial Government supports to promote the construction of affordable housing, output was insufficient to meet demand.

“Government should revisit the effective bans on building in certain parts of the Greater Dublin Area, which are based on outdated population figures, and encourage local authorities to provide for more residential zoned land in towns that are well served by public transport options,” he said.

“In addition, transport planning for the region needs to be revised to keep pace with housing and population growth, with a view to bringing forward public transport services and projects that have been placed on the long finger in existing plans.”

More than half of responding firms came from either the professional and financial services sectors or information and communications technology.

Neil McDonnell, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme), said the need to provide accommodation in order to attract or retain staff has also become increasingly common in sectors such as hospitality and nursing homes, with the figures substantially underestimated because many such tenancies are not registered.

“A lot of the people who are talking to us about international work visas are saying that there is an accommodation expectation on the part of people who are inbound so even the smallest of businesses are now having to rent or buy accommodation for workers,” he said.

Laura Bambrick, head of social policy and employment affairs at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said while some employers are getting involved in the provision of accommodation, there has been a lack of proper research in the area, something she suggested needs to be addressed.

“It’s a slightly divisive one for the unions,” she acknowledged, “because despite the scale of the issue, many see it as a backwards step when what is really needed is more action to address the number of new homes being built.

“But we would have very real particular concerns with regard to people coming in on a permit because it puts those people under particular obligations to their employer and if that employment breaks down, it puts the person at risk of not being able to remain.”

Nursing Homes Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly confirmed the practice of providing accommodation has become “very common” in that sector with many operators renting houses and at least one requiring a full-time staff member to manage rented properties.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times