How we do it
A new breed of company is needed. One which understands that how it behaves is just as important as what it does.
We believe that companies have spent far too long measuring their success through a single lens. Profit.
They’ve sacrificed the interests of others (their employees, their customers, their communities and the environment) for their own financial benefit.
We’d like this to change.
First, because business, done right, has the power to transform the world in which we live.
Secondly, because behaviour is inextricably linked to building a valuable business. People increasingly want to work for, buy from and invest with ‘good’ companies.
The world today is more broken than ever. Lack of trust, inequality, and the impact of climate change is all around us.
While governments and charities can help, the real (and most powerful) solution needs to come from business.
Specifically from entrepreneurs.
We don’t think or act like most companies. Our ideas rarely fit into little grey filing cabinets. So rather than setting out a rule book, we’ve come up with eight simple beliefs that we live by:
Owners behave differently
We have 1,076 shareholders in Octopus. More than three-quarters of them are current or past employees.
We encourage share ownership with our employees because we believe owners behave differently. They see Octopus as ‘their’ company and so hold us to account, both in what we do and how we do it.
Our people are everything
Great business is simply about how we make our customers feel. And this comes down to the actions of every single one of us, every single day.
Which is why we’re incredibly picky about the people we hire. Our recruitment process is long and it’s tough. There’ll be role plays, case studies and presentations, as well as some questions you’ve probably never been asked.
But if you’re successful, you’ll join a team of 2,500 people working to redefine the role that business plays in society. We think that’s an exciting thing to be part of.
We’ll never forget Mr Gower
We enter sectors where the service sucks. Where the dominant players have grown cynical and complacent and where customers are crying out for something better. Whenever we hear ‘that’s just the way it is’, we take it as an open invitation to shake things up.
Every time we set up a new business, or launch a new product, we start from the perspective of the customer. We ask questions, we get inside their heads and we find out what it’s like to walk in their shoes. We find out what ‘brilliant’ looks like for them and then we move heaven and earth to make it happen.
Whether you’re our first customer (thanks Mr Gower) or one of the 100,000 new customers who join us every month, we don’t take anything, or anyone, for granted.
Everyone’s a grown up
We don’t like bureaucracy or rules for rules sake.
And we don’t like businesses that treat their employees, or their customers, like children.
So there’s no 100-page staff handbook telling you what you can wear, or when you can go on holiday, or anything else we’d expect grown-ups to work out for themselves.
Wellbeing is more than just a salary
Companies have a responsibility that goes beyond paying employees’ wages.
In our view, companies should help improve the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of everyone who works there. Which is why we offer free mental health coaches on site, as well as subsidised financial coaching that helps you get on top of your finances and live the life you want.
Giving back more than we take
When we first started out, we relied on the small number of people who gave us a chance and chose to invest in our dream. We never forget that.
Octopus Giving is our way of putting something back, by helping to give others their chance.
Since we launched Octopus Giving in 2014, we’ve donated more than £1.5 million to a handful of small charities. But it’s not just about the money. We’re a socially conscious bunch and giving our time, expertise and energy to charities runs through everything we do and is a massive part of what makes Octopus a special place to work.
This year we’ll donate more than 5,000 hours of our time volunteering.
IPO? Hell, no.
Most smaller companies dream of becoming a listed company. Not us. Not ever.
Our shareholders are the 80-plus original friends and family who supported us through the early (lean) years plus the hundreds of people who work here.
To us being a listed company means we’re more at risk of putting the interests of our shareholders above everyone else. And we never want to lose sight of what’s really important – our employees and our customers.
We’d rather be independent. Free to speak up, be bold and do the right thing.
We’re not afraid to fail
We made peace with the concept of failure a long time ago. In fact, today we refer to them as ‘great failures’ because from them we’ve developed some of our greatest ideas.
Octopus is an ideas factory, and one of our strengths is to spot an opportunity and to trust ourselves to deliver on it. But not every opportunity we pursue and not every business we build will succeed. Getting it wrong can be painful but we own up to our mistakes, learn from them and always make sure we put our investors first.