Drive change as an employee engagement ‘rebel’ to challenge the status quo

Debra Corey gives her insight on how to drive change and challenge the status quo. Debra is speaking at the CIPD Employee Experience Conferences, 11-12 December in London. Book your ticket today.

How to be an employee engagement rebel and drive change

If you’re like me, you’ll have tried numerous diets and exercise regimes, all with the goal of improving your overall health.  But let me ask you, if you weren’t getting results, would you continue, or would you stop and try something different? I’d like to think that you’d try something different, realising that investing any more time, energy and money was a complete waste.

Then why don’t we do the same when it comes to employee engagement? With Gallup reporting that 87% of employees are not engaged, costing the UK £340 billion a year lost in productivity, it’s no question that businesses are not getting the results they need.

Shouldn’t we try something different? As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. I’m not saying that we’re insane, but I do I think we all need a bit of a nudge to try a different approach, one we call a “rebellious” approach.

Now don’t get nervous, thinking you could never be a rebel. If someone like me, who’s been doing HR for thirty years can, then you certainly can.  Here are 3 tips to help you become an employee engagement rebel:

    1. Create your own definition. A rebel is someone who challenges the status quo, breaks traditional rules and fundamentally treats their people differently.  However, I’ve been in the workplace long enough to know that we’ll all interpret it differently depending on our starting point – how rebellious we are from the get-go, both professionally and personally, and how open our company is to starting their own “rebelution”. In our book we share sixty stories, or what we call “plays”, of what rebels have done, ranging from bringing an ice cream truck to the office to openly sharing the salaries of all employees. You define, and you do it!
    2. Start with strategy. A rebel knows that if you want your employees to engage with you, it needs to start with understanding why and how you’ll do this, so beginning with strategy. For this reason they don’t take the latest fad “off the shelf,” but instead innovate in a way that is unique to their company, their workforce and their objectives. They aren’t afraid to show their personality, even if that means being different than others, as long as it links back to their strategy. Just as we all have different goals when it comes to diet and exercise, we all need to create different strategies, and then be rebellious in achieving them.
    3. Be brave. And finally, rebels understand that you need to be brave. This could mean going up against opposition, and having to fight for their cause no matter how difficult and challenging it can be. They don’t let this fear get in their way, but use it to fuel their energy and passion to make things happen.

I hope this has inspired you to join our “rebelution”, being and doing rebellious things at your company, and changing your engagement results.


Debra Corey is presenting ‘Driving change as an employee engagement ‘rebel’ to challenge the status quo at the CIPD Employee Experience Conferences, 11-12 December in London. Book your ticket today.