I worked at The Phoenix Partnership full-time (Less than a year)
Free bacon sandwich on a Friday
You will learn how to NOT behave in a working environment and how NOT to treat people
This place is absolutely vile.
When I applied for the job I was advised by a few people who had worked there (and swiftly left) not to apply. I thought - it can't be that bad, they are clearly just not competent and/or hard working.
So off I skipped to my interview. I though it was a little bit weird, the CEO was a bit strange, but still I went in, excited to be working in an up and coming fast paced business.
This was the single biggest mistake of my life.
The CEO and his little minions are bullies. They will belittle you, humiliate you and drain the life out of you. Week in week out I saw people left in tears.
Fortunately I managed to keep out of their way, I pretended that I bought into their "values", kept my head down and said yes/no like a robot when spoken to.
3 months after starting, I got off the bus, walked into the office and quit. I had no other job lined up, bills to pay out, but I would rather have been homeless than worked there any longer.
How they haven't been taken through an employment tribunal yet I don't know. Maybe everyone who escapes is just so happy to be free they don't think twice about it.
And to the people who work there and have been coerced into writing positive reviews on here, these negative reviews are not written by liars - we have no reason to lie, you have every reason to lie and write your positive reviews - you'll lose your job if you don't ;)
If this review puts off just one person from applying to this cult, it will be worth the 5 minutes of my time it took me!
Advice to Management
They aren't worthy of advice
I have been working at The Phoenix Partnership full-time
I’ve been at TPP for years and I genuinely love it. You don’t work somewhere for so long if it’s not a good place to work. Firstly, you are working in a morally good sector – healthcare IT. You are in an industry that helps people and it is massively rewarding. Secondly, I pretty much learn something new every day – which stops the job being boring or monotonous and makes the working day fly by. It's interesting work, on a very large scale modern system.
The benefits are really as good as they sound. We work hard, but we are very well looked after. The work hours are great – there is absolutely no late hours’ culture, which is a massive benefit when I compare mine to the hours that some of my friends in London work. And then there’s the sailing trips to the Caribbean, the birthday meals, the pay rises, it goes on...
Yes, it can be challenging. But working with so many bright minded people all pulling towards the same cause is amazing. It can be hard work, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t see how you can feel the rewards for solving complex problems without having the hard problems to start with!
The great thing at TPP is that everyone’s opinion counts, and it means if someone thinks something is wrong and needs changing then we can change it. Over the years, I’ve seen so much change for the better and the culture allows us to keep that going.
I worked at The Phoenix Partnership full-time (More than 5 years)
There are some genuinely nice people at TPP. Actually quite a lot. The company tries to be nice to staff by giving perks like a free bacon (or egg etc) sandwich to staff on Friday morning, bar tabs to encourage people to socialise on Friday evenings etc. And the general level of intelligence of staff is higher than most companies, due to the policy of only hiring the brightest graduates.
Great pay rises as long as you rise to the top of the already extremely competent staff.
In short you won't learn any skills to help you get your next job. I'll explain more below.
Most of the established senior staff left in the last few years. Anyone who dares to disagree with the remaining senior management is at risk, as all the previous senior employees found out to their cost.
It's a very personal environment. Professionalism doesn't come into it. If you disagree with "the boss" (and if you work there you know who that is) then you're out. If they want to fire someone and ask you to write a damning report about their ability, and you refuse (on the honest basis you think they're actually ok) you're fired - one way or another.
Another major negative is the remaining senior staff. Specifically the senior directors but a few others too, particularly in the Customer Relation Management (CRM) and Customer Support Analyst (CSA) teams, and a few arrogant developers who think they run the place.
The CEO set up the company with his mate from Uni. Since the other partner left, things went from bad to worse. The CEO now runs the company as his personal demesne, expecting everyone to respond to any problem at any time. Work/life balance is pretty much non existent. A company with around 100 developers and CSAs should be able to manage a rota so that if a problem arises out of hours not everyone gets woken up.
In reality, the company philosophy is "wake everyone up because then we will fix the problem more quickly". It might seem sensible at first glance but have you ever tried being on a conference call with anything approaching 100 people? It doesn't work and just makes it harder for people who might be able to help to get heard.
I have heard CSAs and CRMs complain that they don't learn any transferable skills - standard ticketing software to track and address issues is not used, it's all home grown stuff. No OpenProject or Jira, or any kind of burn down charts to track issues - you have to figure out your own way to manage this stuff.
The tech used is also out of date. I've heard lots of developers complain that they also don't learn transferable skills. For example, they use CVS for source control rather than a more modern alternative such as Git or Subversion. Standard tech (which will make you more employable in future) such as Hibernate, Spring etc. is not used. Everything is home grown. Although that may be great for learning how it's all done "under the hood" it probably won't make you more employable in future.
TPP pretty much hires ONLY newly qualified graduates. You have to ask yourself why they don't hire any experienced staff in any role. The answer in my opinion is simple. If you've worked anywhere else that is even half decent, you wouldn't stand for the crap you have to put up with at TPP.
Advice to Management
Learn to respect your employees. There's a reason most of the directors and senior staff left in the last few years.
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I worked at TPP for six months as a software developer and chose to resign. My thoughts here mostly apply to the software developer role.
Don’t let my 2 star rating put you off immediately. Taking a job there as a high-variance decision: the best outcome is that you are in a well-paying, intellectually challenging position surrounded by interesting and kind people. The worst outcome is that you become depressed, anxious and have to quit. Unfortunately, I experienced the latter.
My gut feeling is that the expected value of working there (assuming you are good enough to get hired) is lower than your alternatives, unless you have strong reasons for thinking your personality is well suited to the environment. To give you a rough base rate for staff turnover: I would guess 25-50% of new employees don’t make it past a year, with a significant fraction being fired. I’ll try and explain what it is about TPP that makes it so difficult to survive, and describe the sort of person that you need to be to enjoy it.
As other reviews have mentioned, the culture is weird. This is both a positive and a negative. Here are some of its salient features:
- A significant amount of resource goes into teaching you the job, but remarkably little effort is spent on structuring your learning. The information and skills you need to get up to speed are not presented in any kind of logical order. You are literally thrown into conversations full of technical jargon and expected to stop the conversation every time you do not understand something. You are regularly given tasks that you have no idea how to do and then expected to shout-up to your colleagues for help. This was an unpleasant way to learn for me. However, since people were very kind and patient giving explanations, this can really suit some people.
- Staff were brash and tactless by the standards of british culture. Hence, your brain will interpret their actions as demeaning or threatening when that person thought nothing of it. This is totally fine if you are able to ‘rewire’ your brain and undo standard cultural associations.
- You are constantly interrupted and expected to interrupt others. This creates the feeling of a ‘fast-paced, lively’ environment; it also comes with task-switching costs. This can make you feel unfocused.
- You can feel micro-managed insofar as you are expected to report what you are up to every half-an-hour or so and constantly justify why something is taking longer than you originally predicted. The upside of this is that you get regular feedback on how to complete a task.
What traits predict success at TPP? It’s hard to say, but a rough guide:
- Emotionally resilience. You can cope with a lot of pressure from other people. Academic success probably implies that you can cope with internal pressure on yourself, but not necessarily from other unfamiliar people. Accepting very direct feedback from people with strict standards is tricky.
- Social confidence. If you are at all shy or get anxious in unfamiliar social situations, you will have a hard time.
- Intelligence. This is necessary but definitely insufficient. Many very smart people I knew (including warwick and cambridge mathematicians) still got fired.
A final reminder: whilst my time there was pretty awful, I had good friends who loved working there. If you’re happy taking a risk, and don’t mind quitting if it doesn’t work out, then consider applying.
See the previous section. Whether or not something is a pro or con mostly depends upon your personality rather than anything objective.
The only 'pure' con is that I had very little faith in the CEO. He could be egocentric and extremely rude. It often felt like employees were too scared to be honest with him. Fortunately, he was wasn’t present very often
I have been working at The Phoenix Partnership full-time (More than 10 years)
Interesting, challenging work.
Learn loads as soon as you start...and then keep learning. Never bored.
Lovely people to work with. Bright, enthusiastic, friendly people from all over the world.
Opportunities to travel to all sorts of places.
Nice place to live, whether you like city or countryside.
Money, holiday allowance and perks fantastic.
Strongly encouraged to leave on time means you only work late on rare occasions when it's really needed.
There really isn't anywhere else that I'd want to work. If there was a con, the culture of the company is that we are all empowered to change it.
Advice to Management
Keep listening to the staff.
A nice laid back atmosphere, also a decent salary
Can't think of any at the moment
I have been working at The Phoenix Partnership full-time (More than 3 years)
Work that matters: TPP is a place where you are encouraged to be really invested in the work that you're doing. It's satisfying to be doing work that you care about and that you think matters - this is key for me. It's also great to see that reflected by the others on your team. A lot of thought goes into every development because everyone cares about making the best product that we can.
Ability to make changes: We make improvements to our processes on a daily basis. If there are things you would like changing then there are bound to be others who agree with you and who can help you to make it happen. A good recent example are the mistake emails (which seem to be infamous in many of the reviews on here). It used to be that if you made a mistake that people could learn from, you sent an email around to the whole company saying what you did and how you'll prevent it next time. It was intended to keep things 'open', whilst also helping others to avoid repeating the same mistakes. However, a large number of us felt that having to 'formalise' every mistake by writing it down and sending it around the whole company is a pretty horrible thing to have to do - you likely feel bad enough about it already without recording a permanent reminder in everybody's inbox! As a result, this has been scrapped. We also recently got a table tennis table for our breakout area!
Variety: Every day is different. Teams and priorities change regularly and people are rotated within the company so that everyone gets a chance to build experience in different areas. That said, if there's a project that you're particularly enjoying or want to be moved on to this can also be taken into account - whenever I've made a request it's always been granted. And there's all the other stuff you get to do which sits outside the normal "coder" role too - from getting involved in our recruitment strategy to attending external meetings/careers fairs, or even just helping out others on the team. The days fly by - often you get to the end of the day and can't figure out where the time went.
People: Honestly, I've met so many great people working here (past and present) and I believe many of them will be friends for life. There's a great comradery in every team, and the rotation of employees means before long you will have worked with the majority of people at the company. Added to this are all the other opportunities for socialising - there's the pub every Friday, work parties and plenty of other social events like climbing, football and (recently) a weekly board game night. This is especially important when you're new - when I started I felt like people really invested in training me, rather than treating it as a burden. The people are just fantastic.
Atmosphere: This is kind of a similar point about the people you get to work with, but most of the time there's a really good atmosphere at work. Even during the most stressful of problems I see people looking out for each other, whether it's to say that someone needs to take some time out or just someone cracking a joke to try and lighten the mood. Everyone can voice opinions and they are weighed on merit rather than amount of experience. Some of the reviews on here talk about bullying or a culture of fear which I just don't see at all. I think historically there have been some people who 'slipped through the net' for a while who were prone to outbursts or difficult to approach for help, but it's not the case anymore.
Great Perks: This one almost goes without saying, and I'm putting it last because it's genuinely the least important part for me. If you don't enjoy a job then no perks (no matter how great) are going to change that. That said, I have enjoyed two all-expenses paid trips to the Caribbean while working here as well as regular free bar tabs and a very generous salary.
The job is hard work - it's all go all the time and there's a lot on your mind pretty much constantly. It isn't one of those programming jobs where all you do is write code - you're expected to be an active member of the team in a lot of other ways, too. Are we on track to hit our deadlines? What can we do if not? Is everyone on the team doing ok? It can be exhausting holding all of these things in your head at once (and taking appropriate actions), whilst also trying to help out your colleagues and get on with completing your own tasks! Multi-tasking is key pretty much from the get-go.
I also agree that the training can be quite inconsistent for new starters - what you're working on and who you're with both have a part to play in this. That said, everyone does want to help and I think it's the right approach to train people organically rather than having a more rigid training 'program' that has to be completed. It's just harder to standardise with the way that we do it, and I think sometimes it leads to people not getting the best initial experience. Like everything, though, it's something we're always trying to improve.
Advice to Management
Keep doing what you're doing, but let's focus more on our new starters. We're putting a lot of work into hiring more people, which means we're going to have a harder time than ever making sure everyone gets the right training and sees us at our best.
I have been working at The Phoenix Partnership (Less than a year)
When I started at TPP I wasn't sure what to expect. The people I had met at my interview seemed lovely, but I had already read some really vitriolic reviews on Glassdoor, and so I was quite worried about what I had let myself in for. I had decided to move to Leeds on my own for the job, and so was starting a new career path in a new company and a foreign place. Fortunately, I realised I had nothing to be worried about within a few days of starting. The best thing about TPP is definitely the people I get to work with, who are kind, motivated and razor-sharp in the intelligence department. They were all extraordinarily welcoming when I started, and are the main reason that I'm so happy in my work.
Regardless, it makes sense to list some of the most important pros about working here, just in case the sentiment above is not convincing enough. In no particular order:
- There's loads of support to learn the ropes. Everyone who works at TPP is willing to put down what they're working on to help new starters. They encourage you to ask for help, to ask dumb questions and to be utterly honest about what you do and don't understand. It's totally liberating.
- You have the power to change policies and procedures that can be improved. If you spot an inefficiency - perhaps a tedious task that no ones actually needs to do - then you can change things, provided you convince enough people that it's the right decision. The direct and unsurprising result is that the rules and procedures just make sense. They've been tuned hundreds of times.
- The work is rewarding, meaningful, and varied. It's pretty hard to understate the value of medical record software, which maintains and provides the information doctors use to keep patients alive, so it's no wonder everyone is so motivated. The work changes enough to avoid boredom, but not so much that it's overwhelming.
- You can have a life: leaving work on time is important to everyone - so important that most people keep tabs and updates on anything that could cause the team to stay late. Occasionally staying late is inevitable, but then we're in it together. We'd never leave one lonely coder to type away into the night.
- If you're a software developer you have to be ready to go in to the office out of hours on the rare occasion that something has gone wrong. It makes sense - these are actual patient records we're taking care of - but that fact doesn't make it any less annoying when it happens.
- The amount of new material to take on at the start is pretty overwhelming. It's a good way to learn, but you can feel quite useless for the first few months.
I have been working at The Phoenix Partnership (Less than a year)
This job has turned out to be an amazing career opportunity for me. The job role itself is unique and challenging but then you can branch out and develop your own role at TPP. You certainly get more out of this job the more you put in.
The best thing about working for TPP is the fact that your colleagues are interested in what you have to say from day one. It doesn't matter how long you've worked there and you could be called into important meetings or asked for opinions on any company changes.
Lastly, I like the fact that each working day is different. I could be asked to work on something different each day which gives me such a variety to my job. The fact it's sometimes a last minute change to my day does make it an interesting work environment for me.
I think the amount of training you get at the start could be improved. You start by shadowing others in your team but the order in which you learn certain processes in not always in order. You basically learn how to do parts of your job when others are free. It was quite confusing at first for me but now after a year, I'm starting to settle into my job.
Also I can sometimes be asked to help out with other teams or to be on the phone to customers out of hours which when I started was quite daunting. Sometimes the lack of training can affect me in this sense as I will be asked to take shifts in another teams/job roles but I won't have shadowed anyone on how to work in this other team.
Advice to Management
It might be worth organising some training for new starters to learn the basics so they can be more efficient when they start.
I worked at The Phoenix Partnership (Less than a year)
Good salary, even for new starters
Free sandwich on a Friday
Free bar tab on a Friday
Free annual holiday with team
Encouragement of transparency
Room for career advancement
Lack of direction within teams (no team leader coordinating employees)
A culture of making things up on the hoof
Extremely high turnover
Advice to Management
I left TPP a while back but an acquaintance is thinking of applying there and encouraged me to write something here. I want to give constructive feedback as opposed to negatively rant or over enthusiastic praise. TPP is a divisive company to work for, as the ratings here show. I can see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, the company does a good job of getting staff to know each other and gives a lot of perks as well as a very healthy salary. On the other hand, the atmosphere feels chaotic and disorganized with no one coordinating, and it's very stressful if you need structure in your day.
In theory the idea of no professional middle management appeals to me - the team worked almost democratically, with ideas being offered and discussed by everyone in meetings. However, no one was there to implement these ideas, the team was expected to work out themselves how to do it. Which in practice just meant the alpha males and females - the people with the loudest voices - rose to the top (a sort of law of the jungle thing) and bossed everyone around, quite often in a passive-aggressive or sometimes just plain rude manner. I should emphasise they probably didn't mean to be as rude as they were, they just weren't very good at the people skills most professional managers have. But you can't really fault them because they were just picking up work that needed doing that no one else was - that's the way it works there. I didn't see what I would call bullying (ie deliberately attacking someone), but I did see people being unnecessarily upset when things could have been phrased more diplomatically. On the plus side, it was good to see how sometimes expecting people to take the initiative could occasionally get results. But although middle management has been like a dirty word for me in previous jobs, I actually came to believe it's sometimes necessary to have designated team leaders to get things done quickly and efficiently.
The team I was in was ridiculously understaffed, every single day of the 6 months I was there people were dragged onto the phones from other teams to cover lunches or deal with the amount coming in. The high turnover of staff - 1-4 people leaving a month - meant it was even harder to maintain consistency or have a high level of experience beyond a core group of people who had been around for a while. The stress came from keeping on top of things with limited manpower.
Training was brief and essentially consisted of playing with the system and listening to other people taking calls for a week or so and then jumping straight in. This works for some people and doesn't for others. I was fine with this, I've done a lot of temping where there's no training at all, but there were definitely people there who would have been vastly better at their job (and enjoyed it more) with more training. It's a baptism of fire, and although people will help you as much as they can they're most likely busy with their own stuff so can only help a certain amount. You have to be responsible for your own development, by asking questions of your colleagues - depending on who you ask might get you a different answer and lead to a different way of working.
It was good getting to know the team as people, and I felt easy in everyone's company the majority of the time. The social side is really excellent, the team bonded well out of hours with visits to the pub etc and were a good laugh. TPP obviously suits some people very well, people I knew had been there for 4-5 years. It wasn't for me, and although I left the job in the end mainly for external health reasons I wouldn't have stayed much longer anyway. In fact the main black mark against TPP for me is that I was signed off sick for 2 weeks and had multiple calls from HR during that time saying a sick note was only advice and I didn't have to take the time off work if I didn't want to, which came over a bit coercive. In other ways HR were helpful and understanding though.
My advice is, if you have any doubts at all, it probably isn't for you. It takes a certain type of confidence to thrive in TPP and if you have that you could do very well indeed there. Based on what I saw a vast minority of employees stay longer than 6 months but those who do stick at it get seem to get rapid raises and promotions to other teams. Other comments on here about being told off for touching glass doors and not raising hands properly aren't false but have been overstated - it's just a quirk of working there, nothing major. The CEO Frank I got on well with. Contrary to what some posts say here he isn't some horrible Malcolm Tucker type based on what I saw, and I've seen him apologize for losing his temper when he's been wrong. Just don't expect an easy ride or a calm working environment, and remember no amount of bacon butties or free pints will help you if you're getting stressed at work!
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