Why do people come to work at Oakbrook and why do they stay here?
Everyone’s different, but our experience to date suggests it’s because of our great culture. Basically, the way we do things round here – everything from the work we do, the environment we do it in, to the way we interact – is informed by our desire to have a highly engaged and enabled team. We prize working together – Joining Forces – very highly. People are willing to offer help and are humble enough to ask for it. We all try to pursue the company agenda, not our own personal ones, because at our size, the individuals only succeed when the team succeeds.
Oakbrook started with a question rather than a vision. “Why aren’t there great borrowing choices for people who aren’t the premium customers for the big banks?”. In our business we encourage people to ask questions, big and small. We don’t want people to just unthinkingly accept the way things have always been done; we want them to Rock The Boat and aim for better. This creates work that is challenging, sometimes difficult, new and interesting, because in every area we are pushing to improve and change the status quo.
For us, it’s about using the right technologies and development practices, it’s about thinking harder and smarter about how to meet customer needs, being simple to interact with. It’s about using data more intelligently, it’s about being bang on top of the numbers. Whatever your area – customer service, development, technology, finance, compliance – we provide the opportunity to push the boundaries with work which is challenging, hard and new.
We are a small business, and we want you to have opinions and to make decisions. We hire people because we believe that everyone can make an impact – so we aim to give you the freedom and autonomy to do that. We don’t believe in micro-management, we believe in people getting the right outcomes.
It’s an environment where you will learn a great deal on the job. It might sound a bit daunting (and it should!) but Oakbrook is committed to making sure that everyone has what it takes to succeed.
Our performance philosophy focuses on what you do well, not where you are weaker. And we don’t wait for a big surprise at year end: instead our managers are all trained to provide regular feedback using an established framework (it’s called “ Stepping Up” in line with one of our expected behaviours). We aren’t one of those companies where personal development is all about what we need: it’s very much about you as an individual, helping you improve your skills for your future at Oakbrook and beyond.
Oakbrook sends all its people managers on a coaching programme, and we provide a healthy training budget to be used across the business. We even give you a personal annual allowance to spend on the learning of your choice, it doesn’t have to be work related, it’s just intended to help you maintain the rhythm of learning.
Progression at Oakbrook isn’t about badges and stripes. It’s about growing your capability and taking responsibility. We are looking for you to Step Up, identify the space you think can be occupied and ask for the support and help you need to succeed.
You should not be too daunted by the challenging work. We prize working together – Join Forces – very highly. People are willing to offer help and humble enough to ask for it. We try to pursue the company agenda not our own personal ones, because as we’ve already said, at our size, the individuals only succeed when the team succeeds.
In addition to Join Forces, other behaviours we expect of each other are:
Rock the Boat – you’ll be expected to offer your thoughts and your opinions, to challenge received wisdom
Swap Shoes – Put yourself in the place of our customers and your team members
Step Up – Take accountability for your work and your own development
Brilliant Simplicity – Smart people often create complexity, brilliant ones create simplicity
Hopefully that gives you a sense of how we behave, and it’s also worth saying that at Oakbrook you are expected to bring yourself to work. We hired you because of the person you are – there is no need to have a different “work persona”.
We aim to hire people who are smart, creative and get a kick out of actually getting things done – especially getting things done as part of a team. We also like to hire people who are a bit different, in personality, in temperament, in experience and outlook.
Of course, it’s all very well working with nice people, but it doesn’t matter much if you hardly know them. We make it easy to connect with your colleagues, from big events like the inevitable Christmas Party (which we think we do with aplomb) or our legendary summer barbecue, to much smaller events like pub quizzes, an impromptu Pimms afternoon and a near endless supply of cake.
We want the “best version of you” to come to work.
To that end we have focused our benefits on your wellbeing – both your physcial and mental health. We provide: ‘Death in Service ‘ life assurance with 4 times salary pay out; 25 days holiday plus bank holidays, and the ability to buy or sell up to 5 days; private health care; a healthcare cash plan where you can claim back minor medical expenses like a physio appointment or dental work; and, if you’re looking to start a family, we offer enhanced maternity and paternity payments. There’s salary sacrifice schemes for parking and tram season tickets to make the trip in to work a bit easier. Plus, if you’ve just got stuff that’s causing you problems that you don’t want to talk about at work, there’s also a free confidential and independent advice line open 24/7 for all our employees.
We also know financial security is a big issue, so we have a pension plan, and we give all new starters a Perkbox account to let the bargain hunters save some money, with things like free mobile phone insurance, cheap cinema tickets, discount shopping and loads of other great stuff on offer.
We want good people to work here and stay here. We pay very competitive salaries, which – for people who are solidly contributing – we expect to grow faster than inflation. Obviously as people Step Up by growing their skills, helping others and taking accountability, they will become more valuable to us and their salary will grow at a significantly faster rate.
We think it’s important that everyone who contributes shares in the success of the company. We know that we succeed or fail as a team, so every quarter in which we hit our goals we’ll add cash to the bonus pot, and pay that out as a flat % of salary at the end of the year. We trust people to work hard and don’t believe it’s worth the effort to try to exactly unpick the relative sizes of different people’s contributions – and the last thing we want is to be competing with each other.
Rewards aren’t just financial, we aim to provide people with meaningful recognition. Whether it is a “tap on the back” from their peers or a thoughtful acknowledgement from their manager, saying thanks and showing appreciation is really important to us.
Let’s face it, no one is going to be at Oakbrook forever. Hopefully, you’ll leave after a long and successful career here. Sometimes it’s just going to be the case that you aren’t right for Oakbrook and Oakbrook isn’t right for you. We have a very distinct culture and some very clear expectations of how we behave towards each other and towards work. Not everyone is up for that. That’s OK.
However, it’s in no-one’s interest to stick in a relationship that isn’t working. Our commitment is that: we’ll call it early if we feel it’s not working, we’ll support you in making it work; if not, we’ll help you to find another job, and help you bridge financially. Our ask of you is that if you don’t think it’s working – tell us. If we don’t know we can’t help.
We don’t know. We have questions, not answers. “Why aren’t there great borrowing choices for people who aren’t the premium customers for the big banks?”, “How could we improve them?”, “What is it that customer’s really need when they borrow?”, “How do you take the fear or stigma out of debt?”, “How do you find people who, despite appearances, can really pay us back?”, “What kind of technology will deliver the customer experience we need?”; ”How do make it simpler to pay back?”.
There’s no grand vision and there’s no grand plan. There are questions, we find the answers, and that leads to more questions. We don’t know what the whole thing will look when we’re done, but we have massive confidence, with the talent and knowhow we have, that it will be pretty awesome. For sure it will be an interesting, challenging and fun ride.