The billion pound company WITHOUT an HR department

The owner of a billion pound company with more than 1,200 employees has revealed he doesn’t have a human resources department and expects workers to resolve complaints themselves. 

Serial entrepreneur Greg Jackson ran a coffee shop, property management company and mirror-manufacturing company before founding Octopus Energy, a start-up selling green energy, in 2015. 

It has enjoyed huge growth and has been valued at more than £1.4billion ($2billion). Octopus Energy supplies 2million homes in the UK.

Serial entrepreneur: Greg Jackson founded Octopus Energy, a start-up selling green energy, in 2015. He said he doesn't have an HR department because he trusts his employees

Serial entrepreneur: Greg Jackson founded Octopus Energy, a start-up selling green energy, in 2015. He said he doesn’t have an HR department because he trusts his employees

Huge success: Octopus Energy has enjoyed huge growth and has been valued at more than £1.4billion ($2billion). Octopus Energy supplies more than 1.9million homes in the UK. Pictured, Mr Jackson with Boris Johnson at the Octopus Energy London office in October

Huge success: Octopus Energy has enjoyed huge growth and has been valued at more than £1.4billion ($2billion). Octopus Energy supplies more than 1.9million homes in the UK. Pictured, Mr Jackson with Boris Johnson at the Octopus Energy London office in October

Mr Jackson explained he has resisted building HR and IT departments because there is a tendency for companies to ‘infantilise’ employees and ‘drown creative people in process and bureaucracy’. 

‘Are companies with huge HR departments full of happier people, are they more productive? And the answer is usually “no”,’ he said in a BBC interview.

‘Job adverts always say “we’re looking for creative people, who can take responsibility, who’ve got passion for customers” and all that stuff. 

‘And yet when people start working for a company, the first thing the company does is drown them in processes and bureaucracy.

‘If you’re going to recruit smart people who are talented and motivated… The most important thing a company can do is free them up to deliver that stuff that is magic about humans.’

Mr Jackson believes employees should be empowered to find solutions to problems themselves, including ones such as a complaint of bullying that might be typically handled by an HR department. 

Mr Jackson believes employees should be empowered to find solutions to problems themselves, including ones such as a complaint of bullying that might be typically handled by an HR department. Pictured, a photo from inside the Octopus Energy office

Mr Jackson believes employees should be empowered to find solutions to problems themselves, including ones such as a complaint of bullying that might be typically handled by an HR department. Pictured, a photo from inside the Octopus Energy office

He said he gives managers appropriate training and expects them to take personal responsibility instead of ‘shelving responsibility to a third party.   

He continued: ‘If you spend all of your time at work, whenever there’s something difficult, handing it onto another function rather than doing it yourself, it is less fulfulling for you but it also means the company is getting less out of you.

‘How can a company try and find better and better ways of dealing with things if it takes all of its intelligence from its people and diverts it from those big problems.’

Mr Jackson said his belief that top-down management structures arise from the experience he gained building up companies from just a handful of employees. 

Permanent staff at Octopus Energy own 5 per cent of the business.   

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak visited the Octopus Energy office in October last year to promote green energy usage in Britain. 

During the visit, Mr Johnson said he wanted to make the UK the ‘Saudi Arabia of green energy’. 

He was photographed alongside Mr Jackson.