With just a few days until the Summer Forum, we at Benefex HQ are getting excited for what’s going to be an awesome day of insights, innovation, and inexplicable awesomeness!

We’re thrilled that we’ll be hearing from EB Awards finalist, Sian Myers from Countryside; a listed UK home builder, specialising in place making and urban regeneration.

As HR Operations Director, Sian has not only been central to Countryside’s success in recent years, but she’s driving them forward to conquer bigger and better things in the years to come. After working alongside Benefex for nearly four years now, they’ve got a lot of dirt on us, which Sian is going to be divulging to our guests on the day.

But in the meantime, here’s a bit of insight into a day in the life of an HR Operations Director…

Sian, firstly congratulations on getting to the finals of the EB Awards this year! Countryside have obviously done great things over the last few years; what would you say has changed the most about your reward scheme since you’ve been there?

I would say that it is far more inclusive. When I joined Countryside we were just in the process of launching our Flexible Benefits platform, ‘Your Reward’, which was a big step for us (prior to that we had a good benefits package but it was fairly standard). Since the launch of ‘Your Reward’ we have spent a lot of time reviewing what benefits we offer, taking account of our varied employee demographics and geographic locations. We’ve added at least two new benefits every year, made changes to existing benefits and we actively seek employee feedback whenever we can. The competitive market in the construction industry means it’s a very employee driven market, we need to stand out from the competition in order to attract the best people.

Countryside has experienced incredible growth! How has this added to your wonderful culture, and what challenges has it presented too?

Countryside has grown from about 650 people when I started in April 2015 to over 1,800 people today. It’s a fantastic place to work; employees are very hard working and loyal to the company. There is a real sense of pride in the product we are delivering and where the Company is going. It is a fast-paced and exciting environment. Countryside celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year. It was originally a family run business based in Essex. We still retain some of that family feel which people love. However, we are now a large public company, so some things inevitably have to change. Our culture is evolving. We are trying to keep all the positive elements of the family-run small company and combine those with a forward-thinking, employer of choice that stands out from the crowd.

Many of your benefits are unique to Countryside. How did you come up with these creative rewards?

We listen to our employees. We have a very diverse workforce, so it can be challenging to reach everyone and to take account of all their views. It’s not perfect yet and we definitely still have work to do, particularly with our site-based employees who are more difficult to reach out to.

And finally, what is your proudest achievement at Countryside to date?

I love running our Your Reward Roadshows.  We get such a great reaction, particularly when we visit the construction sites.  Our employees really engage in this process and get a lot from talking to the various providers and members of the HR team.  It takes a huge amount of effort from my team (we have 10 offices now and a large number of sites) but it is really worth it.