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About The Ridings Housing Association Ltd

Staff at The Ridings Housing Association are dedicated to helping people find their dream homes, but their bosses make sure they don’t overdo that dedication by insisting that nobody works more than 37 hours a week.

The Leeds-based housing association has been operating for 27 years and has a stock of 2,000 homes. It caters for a diversity of people with housing needs, including families, single people and couples, as well as those with mental health problems, young homeless and ex-offenders.

The community-based remit of the association appears to be mirrored in the way it treats its employees. Some 85% believe they can make a valuable contribution to the success of the company, and their sense of encouragement and trust from senior managers is also high; 82% say their manager speaks openly and honestly with them, and 83% get support from their manager when they need to learn new skills. Last year, £57,300 was spent on skills training.

The organisation is permeated from top to bottom by the belief that this is a worthwhile body that does not operate for profit. Nine out of 10 believe in its values and principles and only 10% think profit is the only thing driving it.

This is good news for its chief executive, Jenny Brierley, who loves working for a business that does something for the community. “It’s being able to contribute something in a field which I think is absolutely fundamental — providing people with a home.”

However, this is no “woolly liberal” operation. “We’re running a business, and we have to do that in as businesslike a way as any private firm,” she says. “And if we don’t do that, we’re selling the community short.”

Her vision of customer service has filtered through to the staff, 93% of whom think there are strong values in the company for treating their customers well, a top five score.

The emphasis is on the not-for-profit nature of the business, but it has to make money to survive. All of last year’s £31,000 “surplus” (the word “profit” is taboo) was reinvested in the association’s work.

Staff feel the benefit of the focus on reinvestment. A bonus system was scrapped for being “divisive”; instead, employees are entitled to a “blue sky” personal development budget of £50 a head, plus £75 each for team activities.

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    No employees under 35

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