How do you know if your culture is toxic?

Following reports of every employee at Leigh Town Council in England making complaints about bullying and aggressive behaviour from senior officials, trade unions are warning of toxic working environments causing crippling absence levels, affecting productivity and creating a situation where recruitment is almost impossible. 

The number of claims lodged in the Employment Tribunal containing allegations of bullying has increased 44% from 581 to a record high of 835 in the past 12 months and may be a signal that  businesses are failing to recognise that they might have a toxic work culture.

Some of this has been put down to the increase in virtual working environments, with face to face communication reducing. Leaving colleagues out of communication, remote meetings and using messaging apps to gossip about colleagues have all been cited as bullying behaviours more prevalent in a remote working environment.

A toxic workplace can lead to loss of talent and negatively impact employees’ performance with those being bullied likely to be less productive than their colleagues.

In order to tackle such behaviour, changes must be made at an organisational level, encouraging more effective and varied methods of communication, providing training and guidelines to managers on providing feedback, to avoid misinterpretation. 

Employers must also be willing to thoroughly train managers to enforce company policies to protect and support colleagues at risk, if workplace cultures are to be improved. 121 HR Solutions is running an Essential Skills for Managers workshop on 16th January in Montrose and the 17th January in Glasgow.  Click here to book:  Event Bookings | 121HR Solutions – Glasgow

  • Posted on December 7th, 2023

Working abroad as a digital nomad – what are the implications?

More than seven in ten UK employees say they are planning on working in a different country as a ‘digital nomad’, meaning they can travel freely whilst working remotely, according to new research from the Post Office.

One in three workers said they have already tried ‘digital nomadism’ and a third say they can work as effectively from a beach as they can from an office.

Amongst the 2000 respondents, more than 80% of Gen Z and Millennials said they would be up for trading their current work model for one that they can work abroad. 

From an employer’s perspective, a third of companies say they allow employees to log on from different countries and nearly three quarters are considering introducing the policy. And it may be that employers have to seriously consider this with more than 50% of participants stating that they want the opportunity to work abroad remotely to improve their work-life balance! 

Out of the survey’s 2000 respondents, a third said an incentive to save money by living in a country that’s cheaper was a motivation for wanting to be a digital nomad.

The report explained: “Working remotely from a cheaper country while on a UK salary could be a savvy way of navigating the cost-of-living crisis – although people should consider the tax implications of working abroad.” 

121 HR Solutions is regularly asked by clients to support them in allowing employees to work abroad. There are many implications of this, including time zones, visa and tax implications and methods of communicating with colleagues. Should you require advice, please contact us at

  • Posted on December 6th, 2023

Christmas party season – employers’ responsibilities!

This event in the calendar year is a perfect chance for employers to recognise the hard work that their employees have achieved over the year. Regardless of varying religious and differing beliefs, the holiday season is a great time for reflection and celebration. Ensuring that everyone enjoys themselves is key to the success of the night, but you equally need to ensure that staff are both safe and ‘well-behaved’!

From an employer’s perspective it is important to remember that you can be liable for the conduct of your employees at such events, even when it takes place outside the workplace.

It is important that you ensure employees understand the standard of conduct expected of them at these events, and that they are expected to observe the provisions of work-related policies such as Dignity at Work, anti-bullying, and harassment.

The actions of employees at events such as Christmas parties could potentially damage working relationships, and reflect negatively on the business, resulting in complaints or possible disciplinary actions.

You have a duty of care to all employees and should take reasonable steps to ensure that inappropriate conduct at these events do not arise. Additionally ignoring any incidents because it occurred at the Christmas party may also leave you liable.

If the Christmas party is out of hours, employees should be made aware of the fact that they are not obliged to attend. Employers also need to be sensitive to employees who don’t drink alcohol and should ensure there are non-alcoholic drinks are available.

Christmas parties or work-related events are not the appropriate location for discussions in relation to performance, promotion, salary, or career prospects.  It is another common mistake that work related conversations that should remain in the workplace spill over to the social event.

Where the Christmas party falls on a day when employees will be required to attend work the following day, employers should communicate to staff not to be at work under the influence of alcohol so that they do not endanger their own or another person’s health and safety at work.

Not all publicity is good publicity! So, inform employees that they should not post pictures or comments to social media that would adversely affect the company’s reputation or the privacy of colleagues and so on.

When the proper planning is done for these events and the people are aware of what the standards of conduct and communication and so on are at these events, there is much better chance that they end up being what they are meant to be – which is groups of co-workers who have worked together all year, socialising and having fun together in an environment outside of the usual workplace and usually a big morale booster which is what Christmas parties should be all about!!

Rest assured, the most likely issue that you will encounter at your company Christmas party will be the ‘after-stories’!

If you have any concerns relating to the party season, contact us t

  • Posted on December 6th, 2023

National Grief Awareness Week 2023

This is National Grief Awareness Week. Its mission is to create stronger connections between communities for people to understand what services are available to them in this most difficult of times, and to find a way forward with their life. More information is available via Events – National Grief Awareness Week (

Suffering the loss of a family member, partner or friend can be a devastating experience, and grieving employees need to be treated with the utmost compassion and support.  Bereavement in the workplace can be challenging – employees may need to take time off unexpectedly, find their performance is impacted or be temporarily unable to perform certain roles. However, a compassionate and supportive approach demonstrates that the organisation values its employees, helps build commitment and is likely to reduce sickness absence and help retain employees. 

In the UK, an employee has the statutory right to unpaid time off if:  

  • their child is stillborn (from 24 weeks of pregnancy) or dies under the age of 18 (parental bereavement leave)  
  • a ‘dependant’ dies, for example their partner, parent, child, or someone else who relied on them.  

Should you feel that your bereavement policies require updating, please contact us on 0800 9995 121.

  • Posted on December 5th, 2023

Union activity cited for dismissal!

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has been ordered to pay nearly £7,000 to a former employee after it was found to have wrongly dismissed her for union activity.

The former employee was dismissed after it emerged they had spoken to a newspaper in the past year for an article about how half of the employees had joined the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

The employee was openly critical of the employer’s viewpoint on unionisation, not least due to them refusing to recognise the union.  The employer issued a letter but claimed it did not intend to dismiss the individual.  However, the tribunal found the letter stated the employee was not required to attend work for the remainder of her notice period and would no longer have access to work systems and premises, she was in fact dismissed for an unfair reason.

This case evidences that employees can be protected by trade union laws even though the trade union members weren’t formally recognised by an employer.   121 HR Solutions are experienced in dealing with union representatives in formal processes and pleased to assist where required in managing such situations, contact

  • Posted on December 4th, 2023

National Grief Awareness Week 2023

National Grief Awareness Week 2023 begins on 2nd December 2023.

Its mission is to create stronger connections between communities for people to understand what services are available to them to in this most difficult of times and to find a way forward with their life.

More information is available via Events – National Grief Awareness Week (

  • Posted on December 4th, 2023

Is your recruitment process effective?

A recent study has found that 52% of recruitment candidates are reluctant to attend more than two interviews in any recruitment process. On average, applicants indicated they would lose interest in a job opportunity if required to wait more than nine days for a post-interview response, with workers aged 45 and over “losing patience” after eight days.

Current demand for candidates is high and ineffective communication during the recruitment process may result in employers missing out on their ideal candidates. Where there is shortage of skilled candidates, competitors will be tussling for the same candidate, so keep candidates interested in an opportunity with streamlined hiring practices and regular and effective communication. 

Interviews should be used as an opportunity to sell the company to potential new employees and those first impressions matter for the prospective employee. Sell the benefits, perks and the positive aspects of the workplace. This can help the candidate to choose your offer over another company.

121 HR Solutions can provide recruitment services to employers. To find out more read here

  • Posted on December 3rd, 2023

How to develop your upcoming management team

 Taking on the role of Manager can be exciting and daunting in equal measure. As a manager, an individual is not only responsible for their own performance, but also for the performance, coaching, development, management and even reprimanding of a team of people. 121 HR Solutions run a range of workshops which aims to provide delegates with the basic skills and tools to become an effective line manager.

Our next training event on Essential Skills for Managers is running in January 2024 – 16th in Montrose and 17th in Glasgow.

This workshop will cover:

  • Making the transition to becoming a manager and understand what is involved in being a manager
  • Motivation and delegation guidance
  • How to communicate effectively as a manager
  • How to train, develop and grow your staff, both new and experienced
  • How to get the team to pull together. The importance of being fair, firm and consistent 

 Please book here: Event Bookings | 121HR Solutions – Glasgow

  • Posted on November 30th, 2023

Sex Discrimination case awarded £31,000!

A commander within the police service has been awarded £31,000 in her sex discrimination case against her employer, having raised concerns about officers working from home during the first lockdown, while continuing to be paid.

The officers involved said they were allowed to be on stand-by from home.  She allegedly gave officers under her team a “rollicking”, and some officers lodged complaints about her behaviour, which was labelled “humiliating, intimidating and degrading”. The tribunal was presented with misogynistic WhatsApp messages from junior team members following the incident. 

The commander was transferred to a role in the police training college against her wishes. It was alleged that women within the police force have been subjected to misogynistic comments and behaviour. For example, a woman displaying ‘assertive‘ behaviour akin to males is often labelled ‘aggressive’. 

This case should be a reminder that employer should ensure education of all team members of what is perceived to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within the workplace.  There should be a safe place for all members of a team to speak up, be heard and dealt with accordingly.

Should you have any concerns over culture within the workplace and potential discrimination contact 121 HR Solutions on 0800 995 121 about educating managers.

  • Posted on November 30th, 2023

A herbal remedy resulted in a positive drug test!

A railway technician was unfairly dismissed for failing a drug and alcohol test after having herbal tea was found to have traces of cocaine.

Whilst it was found that the dismissal was unfair due to procedural issues, the employment judge decided that the technician should not receive compensation because he was entirely to blame for his own dismissal!

The technician was subject to a periodic drugs and alcohol test, which found that he tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine routinely looked for in urine to establish use of the class-A drug.  The technician was suspended with immediate effect. However he submitted a statement stating that the most likely cause of his failed test was that he had drunk Inca tea which he had bought for its digestive benefits.

The product did not include a list of ingredients but having researched the product, the technician claimed that he now understood that the tea contained cocaine. The investigation recommended a formal disciplinary hearing based on the finding that the technician “knowingly ingested tea without understanding what it contained”.  The tribunal decision stated that the technician very quickly identified the tea as the source of the cocaine, this is clearly something he could have done prior to drinking the tea, but he chose not to.

The dismissal was therefore within the band of reasonable responses but it was not “just and equitable” to award the claimant any compensation.

Should you require information relating to drug testing, or suspension, contact 121 HR Solutions on for guidance.

  • Posted on November 29th, 2023

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