Ex-Brewdog Staff Bite Back – Does Your Organisation Need to Act on Workplace Culture?

Brewdog have found themselves in the spotlight after more than 60 former members of staff posted an open letter on Twitter making a number of allegations. These included that despite claiming they wished to be the best employer in the world there was a culture of fear at Brewdog. Directly addressing one of the founders in the letter ex-staff members wrote “by valuing growth, speed and action above all else, your company has achieved incredible things, but at the expense of those who delivered your dreams. In the wake of your success, people are left burnt out, afraid and miserable.”

In response to the letter Brewdog has stated “our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter, but to listen, learn and act”.

Brewdog’s situation may have got other employers thinking about the culture in their workplace and whether any action needs to be taken. With this in mind, we look below at five steps that can be taken to help create and maintain a positive workplace culture.

Five Steps

1. Values and respect

Clearly communicating your organisation’s values, commitment to treating all employees with dignity and respect and setting the requirement that employees treat each other in the same way contributes to creating a culture where employees can feel comfortable and confident in the workplace and have a shared sense of purpose.

  • Having appropriate policies and procedures in place, such as equal opportunities policies, is an important part of creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture.

2. Appropriate leadership

It’s important that there is appropriate leadership from all those who have people management responsibilities as they have a key role to play in influencing workplace culture on a daily basis. Managers should lead by example, particularly when it comes to workplace rules, they should also ensure they treat those they are responsible for fairly, reasonably and appropriately.

  • Providing managers with training and support, particularly if they are inexperienced people managers, can help to ensure that workplace matters are dealt with correctly.

3. Awareness of employee rights and employer responsibilities

A basic awareness of employment law rights and responsibilities and how  common HR issues can be effectively and appropriately managed is helpful. Such an understanding assists in ensuring that expectations of employees are set at reasonable and appropriate levels e.g in relation to working hours or performance standards. It can also minimise the likelihood of mistakes being made which can lead to conflict with employees that could have been avoided, for example grievances being raised regarding the mishandling of a workplace matter.

  • Employment law can be tricky so it’s always important to seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd on the facts of a situation before taking action.

4. Support

Creating positive working relationships between managers and employees can contribute to a good workplace culture by creating one in which employees feel confident and comfortable to speak to their manager if they require support. This can help to ensure that issues are identified at an earlier stage when they are more likely to be easier to address. Employee burn-out was one of the issues mentioned in the open letter to Brewdog which highlights the importance of not overlooking mental health in the workplace.

  • Managers should be prepared to have a basic conversation with employees about mental health where appropriate.

5. Reporting and addressing concerns

It’s important that employees feel confident to speak up if they are concerned about wrongdoing in the workplace or how they or someone else is being treated. If employees feel unable to do so then a culture of fear can develop and the organisation will not necessarily know that there is an issue or have the chance to address it if needed. If employees know how to raise concerns and trust that they will be dealt with fairly and appropriately it can help to prevent such a situation from arising.

  • If your organisation needs a whistleblowing or grievance policy, Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd can help.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.