Planning is a high priority for Countryside Properties. The company’s core business is creating sustainable communities built on high-quality homes — and it puts just as much effort into planning clear career structures for its staff.
In return for hard work and high standards from its able young workforce, the company pledges rapid career development, excellent training and good fun.
Rosa Clarke, a graduate on its “Countryside Academy” scheme, is pleased she can continue part-time study. “I go on a day-release scheme to University College London to study for an MPhil in town planning, and have been on training days including problem-solving, and health and safety,” she says. “Countryside is geared to pushing people forward but also giving them support, and it is flexible about the areas you pursue to accommodate your interests.”
The firm invests £431 a year in training for each employee, identifying needs during an annual personal development review. All the board members have risen through the ranks.
The company was formed in 1972 after the merger of Countryside, established in 1958, and Copthorn Homes. The Copthorn division was revived in 1994 to concentrate on homes for first-time buyers and has expanded rapidly by concentrating on high-density, mixed-use developments in London, picking up a host of design awards.
Three-quarters of the staff feel they can make a difference in the company and almost two-thirds think it has a positive social impact, which at 33rd is its highest rank relative to other companies in our top 100.
The main office is in Brentwood, Essex, with regional headquarters in Bristol, Leatherhead, London and Warrington, and another four smaller offices around England. The company shares the rewards of hard work. Staff who earn more than £21,500 (43%) receive profit-related pay and project workers get performance bonuses from £3,000 to £25,000.
The firm also puts in 3% to 10% of salary into contributory pensions and all permanent staff have share options as well as private health and life insurance. Six out of 10 staff feel they are fairly paid compared with their opposite numbers in equivalent firms, one of the company’s strongest results in our survey.
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