Gogglebox | Staff allege 'toxic work culture' behind the scenes

Staff allege 'toxic work culture' behind the scenes

Having a strong and positive company culture can make a huge difference to employers wanting to attract, engage and retain top talent. This is something that the HR function is acutely aware of.

Despite the importance of company culture, the production company behind the popular Channel 4 programme Gogglebox has reportedly been hit with complaints from staff over claims regarding its working conditions on set.

In a recent Guardian article, several staff members who have worked on the popular TV show claimed that the production company, Studio Lambert, tolerated excessive working hours.

There were also claims of staff being shouted at.

‘Inhumane at times’

A former Gogglebox employee who recently departed told the Guardian: “People have had enough. You don’t turn up to work to be screamed at for 12 hours a day.”

“It was the worst job I ever did. The way that it’s made is inhumane at times.”

In addition to this, staff on Gogglebox alleged that they were warned against disrupting production by being forced to self-quarantine.

The Guardian was told that they responded by removing the NHS tracking app from their phones.

Some individuals are believed to have contacted the Bectu trade union. A Spokesperson for the union told the Guardian: "Bullying and harassment are big problems in the TV industry, particularly for freelance workers.

"That is why we recently launched the #UnseenOnScreen campaign to raise awareness of the issue and demand change."

It was reported that both Channel 4 and the production firm have been made aware of several claims about the treatment of off-screen staff.

Studio Lambert & Channel 4 respond to allegations

In response to this story, a Studio Lambert Spokesperson told the Guardian that all its shows since March had been produced with COVID-19 safe protocols.

“Studio Lambert takes the welfare of its teams extremely seriously across all its productions, and has a number of measures in place to encourage people to come forward with any concerns they may have, as well as support systems for a range of issues.

“We have procedures in place to look into and take appropriate action whenever we receive a complaint from staff,” the Studio Lambert Spokesperson added.

A Spokesperson for Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 has a clear code of conduct which sets out the standards of behaviour it expects from its suppliers and production partners.

“We can’t comment on anonymous allegations and rumours, but we are satisfied Studio Lambert is taking appropriate action to ensure the welfare of its teams and to enforce appropriate standards of behaviour across the shows it makes for us.”

Yet, this is not the first time that a firm has been hit by toxic workplace claims.

In fact, last year one current and ten former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show claimed to BuzzFeed News that they experienced fear, racism and intimidation behind the scenes of the show.

Spotting signs of a toxic culture

For HR, ensuring that an organisation has a positive and good company culture is critical.

Not only can this help with attracting, engaging and retaining top talent, but it can also help employers to be commercially successful.

In fact, according to Forbes, organisations with strong cultures saw a 4x increase in revenue growth – pointing towards the business benefit of a good culture.

Looking for more

With that in mind, being able to spot signs of a toxic culture is key but how can HR go about this?

Last year, Phil Foster, Managing Director of price comparison site Love Energy Savings compiled a list of early warning signs spotted by disgruntled staff on Reddit.

As was reported by the Mirror, high staff turnover levels, a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture and having bad thoughts were some of the signs to look out for.

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