A former BrewDog employee has described a “chaotic” work environment in one of the company’s north-east bars, where staff are pushed to their limits and treated like “workhorses”.
A 25-year-old from Aberdeenshire has opened up about her experiences in a BrewDog bar in the north-east, after dozens of former staff members signed a letter accusing bosses at the north-east beer giant of leaving staff “burnt out, afraid and miserable”.
The former bartender, who wished to remain anonymous, left the company after two years after what she claimed was a detrimental environment of “bullying” and “lack of understanding”
Yesterday, the 25-year-old told us she never expected everything to “spiral out of control” just months after she first set foot in the bar as a BrewDog employee.
Her claims come after a public spat between the north-east brewers and former employees, which saw claims made against the company and the culture they had adopted in a statement posted online on Wednesday by a group naming themselves Punks With Purpose.
BrewDog co-founder James Watt replied on Thursday, apologising and commiting to do better.
On Friday, Punks with Purpose responded to the apology, saying: “We are glad to see that you found our comments hard to read, because they were indeed hard to write.”
“Everything just spiraled out of control due to no fault of my own”
The former staff member said: “When I started I thought that this would be great – it was exciting, I felt really welcomed by the team and all seemed really positive.
“And then everything just spiraled out of control due to no fault of my own.
“The word that comes to mind to describe my experience with them is chaotic.
“No one was listening to me and nobody cared about what I was going through when I was really struggling – I was bullied by my manager and felt like I wasn’t supported and appreciated.”
The Aberdeenshire girl spoke out about the challenges of suffering from mental health issues in a setting where she says “if you can’t work to their needs, you’re not worth anything”.
She says she reached out to her general manager several times in a plea for help and support to get through what she describes as a “difficult time when she was really struggling”.
However, her call for help was met with “total disregard” and “brushed away”.
Following a number of unsuccessful one-to-one meetings where she openly disclosed her vulnerable situation to her boss, she decided to seek support from the area manager and explain her issues – but received the same response.
She explained: “They just weren’t taking me and my health seriously no matter how many times I spoke with them about it.
“I felt like if I didn’t leave, they are going to find a way to get rid of me anyway, because I was dealing with mental health issues and wasn’t a workhorse for them.
“If I couldn’t be at work, I was made to feel like the worst person in the world.
“Even when I went higher up to tell them how my manager treated me and made me feel, it was just brushed aside and nothing was ever done about it.
“For me that was probably the worst thing – that it didn’t matter to them – when to me it was an awful thing to have kept happening to me.”
‘It’s good to feel like you’re not alone in this’
Dozens of former employees, who have named themselves Punks With Purpose, posted a damning open letter to Twitter and their website on Wednesday night, claiming “the true culture of BrewDog is, and seemingly always has been, fear”.
The letter ends with the signatures of 61 people who describe themselves as former team members, using both initials and full names, as well as 45 others “who did not feel safe to include either their names or initials”.
The number of signature has since reached over 250 – with the group claiming that some are from some current staff members.
The former Aberdeen employee said she decided to sign the letter to “tell the truth” and enforce change for the better.
She said: “I felt the need to be part of this movement, because I’ve had things happen to me personally, but I also know that so much worse has happened to other people.
“I’m here to support everybody who has had to go through that and to tell the truth in hope that this would force some change.
“I can only thank these people, who put this letter out there, because it’s good to feel like you’re not the only one – and I know others feel the same way.”
Punk with Purpose respond to BrewDog’s statement
Meanwhile, the war of words between the former employees and the craft ale giants continued for a second day with a new statement from Punk with Purpose, saying their aim is “not to destroy BrewDog”, but “to instigate serious and lasting change”.
The new statement was published following BrewDog’s chief executive Mr Watt responded to their initial statement on Twitter, saying the company is “sorry” and “committed to doing better”.
On Thursday, he said: “We are committed to doing better, not just as a reaction to this, but always; and we are going to reach out to our entire team past and present to learn more.
“But most of all, right now, we are sorry.
“It’s hard to hear those comments, but it must have been harder to say them.
“We appreciate that and we will endeavour to honour that effort and courage with the real change it deserves.”
The statement from Punk with Purpose read: “We are glad to see that you found our comments hard to read, because they were indeed hard to write – but please realise that they alluded to merely a fraction of the stories we have shared together as a group, during the process of helping the worst-affected of us to move on, mentally.
“Many of the things that ground us down at BrewDog will never be proved, because they happened in person, and thus we felt we had to remain vague – citing specific examples could expose people to repercussions.
“We have already had other former members of staff sharing further examples of bad practice with us, in the hope we can bring their stories to light.
“It’s not our intention to share more stories at this moment, but make no mistake – we hear these people, we believe and support them, and if the right circumstances arise, we will help amplify their voices too.”
BrewDog was approached for a comment on specific allegations.
The company responded they are “looking into them and will respond in due course”.