Popular pub restaurant firm named in top 10 best companies to work for in UK

Oakman Inns & Restaurants has had its exceptional staff policies and HR record recognised in the influential Sunday Times 100 Best Companies Awards 2017.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 27th February 2017, 1:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:35 am
Oakman Inns Best Improvers and Shakers
Oakman Inns Best Improvers and Shakers

Oakman, the firm behind the popular Crown & Thistle at Abingdon, The Old Post Office in Wallingford and the Blue Boar in Witney, has jumped up to eighth place in the ranks of the Top 10 Best Companies To Work For in the UK for the first time and is the highest ranked in the hospitality sector.

The methods of data-gathering and analysis employed in the quest to find the country’s Best Companies to Work For mean that the lists are widely acknowledged as the most extensive research into employee engagement carried out in the UK each year. All the scores and ratings that are assessed to compile the lists are based on employee opinions, and each year the questionnaires are revised and updated to reflect current workplace concerns.

For the last three years, Oakman Inns has always been highly regarded as an employer, both inside and outside the industry. While consistently achieving a Top 50 ranking year on year, 2017 has seen the company also scoop the ‘Best Improver Award’ in the mid-sized category with their new overall Top 10 placement.

Executive manging editor of the Sunday Times, Robert Hands (L) presenting Best Companies Award to Oakman's Alex Ford

Peter Borg-Neal, Oakman Inns’ chief executive, who founded the business in 2007 with his first pub, The Akeman in Tring, Herts, said: “I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. To reach the top 10 in ‘The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For’ is a credit to every one of our team, not only in Hertfordshire but also across our entire estate.”

Key commendations that contributed to their high ranking included:

Oakman employees appreciate their bosses’ openness and honesty (86%, fifth)

The company’s “Oakmanology” training scheme, (an online software system specifically designed for and by Oakman’s HR department) which, staff say, is of great personal benefit, scoring 82% positive (fourth among mid-size companies).

Executive manging editor of the Sunday Times, Robert Hands (L) presenting Best Companies Award to Oakman's Alex Ford

Employees finding their jobs good for personal growth (85%, eighth).

Managers regularly showing appreciation for good work (85%, third)

Caring about staff job satisfaction (82%) and

Motivating teams to give their best every day (79%).

Jill Scatchard, who has been Head of HR at Oakman Inns for five years said: “Much of this success is down to Oakmanology, our in-house training scheme which is delivered via an online software system specifically designed for and by Oakman. We started work on it almost four years ago and since we released it just over a year ago, our staff have overwhelmingly claimed it to be of great personal benefit (82%). Oakmanology involves everyone, and its skill development modules are taken by everyone from the main board down. We want them to be passionate and proud about what they do, to really care about their attention to detail and for their acquired knowledge and their extraordinary skill sets to positively impact on our customers’ experience.”

Alex Ford, Oakman Inns’ operations director, said: “We are above all else a people business and this award recognises our commitment to our growing number of employees and personal development programmes which ultimately result in a team which wants to give our customers the best experience they can.”

All Oakman’s sites close for Oakfest, the company’s annual music festival, and pub teams organise their own nights out. Employees have plenty of fun together (87%) and say they feel a sense of family (83%).