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A guide to company culture

How do you spot a toxic team culture? Whatever your job, Xenia Taliotis explores the signs and how to empower employees

Mental health awarenessThere was more trouble than beer brewing at BrewDog in June this year after more than 100 former employees signed or supported an open letter to the company’s founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, accusing them of lies, hypocrisy and deceit. “You spent years claiming you wanted to be the best employer in the world, presumably to help you to recruit top talent,” they said. “Being treated like a human was not always a given for those working for you … we have never seen anything that has made us feel that BrewDog has lived the values it purports to uphold.”

The letter described “toxic attitudes towards junior staff”, a “rotten culture” that “belittled and/or pressured people”, and that often made them feel so terrorised that they would leave. “The single biggest shared experience of former staff is a residual feeling of fear – fear to speak out about the atmosphere we were immersed in, and fear of repercussions even after we have left,” said the signatories.