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Are You An Employer? Here’s Why It’s Time To Rebel

What can you do to ensure that your employees remain engaged? The authors of the new book Build It offer insights from some of the world's top companies.
by Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey | Aug 31 2018

In this new, supercharged, super-fast, super-competitive economy, we need our customers to love our brands, love our products, and be advocates for our companies. And surely, customer love must start with employee love. But, as we say in our new book, Build it: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement, “how can our customers love us if our employees don’t even like us?”

Here's Why It's Time to Rebel

With research from Gallup showing that 67 percent of employees globally are disengaged, it’s no question that few of our employees are loving, or even liking us. The reason is because the ways we’ve been treating our employees have failed. We have disengaged employees because we’ve lied to them, treated them as adversaries, and given them jobs without autonomy, excitement, accountability, or praise. No wonder we have little engagement!

But the good news is that there are companies out there challenging the status quo by treating their employees differently. And as a result, they are outperforming their competitors. We call these companies rebels, and we share 60 stories about their innovative initiatives, or what we call “plays,” in the book. These rebels come in different sizes and shapes, and include companies such as Adobe, Atlassian, Boston Consulting Group, Gap Inc., Krispy Kreme, LinkedIn, Southwest Airlines and Zappos to name a few.

Although each is different, these rebels do have some things in common. Their strategies and approaches make them stand out as rebels and help them make a difference – to their employees and to their companies.

Here are three ways you, too, can become an employee engagement rebel:

1. Strategically innovate

Innovation has become such a buzzword that we often forget what it is and why we’re doing it, and we end up innovating just so we can say we’re being innovative. Rebels go back to basics, remembering that innovation happens when it’s done to specifically meet the needs of our customers. With employees as our customers, true innovation occurs when we do it in a strategic manner, linking innovation to the needs of our employees and to our businesses.

An example of this is a play by HSBC, who put in place the “HSBC Exchange” program which is affectionately called the “Shut Up and Listen” program. This innovative program addresses the needs of employees by giving them a vehicle to speak up and be heard.

At the same time, it addresses the needs of external customers by having the entire workforce together identify and create solutions to improve customer service and products.

2. Be unique

Rebels know that if you want your employees to engage with you, you need to meet their specific needs. 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 and to their workforce. They aren’t afraid to show their personality, even if that means being different than others.

A play by BrewDog, an independent Scottish brewery and pub chain, created a unique benefit called “pawternity leave.” Aligning with their love of dogs (the company was founded by two men and a dog), they decided to create a benefit not common in the marketplace, which lets employees take a week off to take care of a new puppy or rescue dog.

3. Be brave

Rebels understand that being brave is about doing things that many are often afraid to do, but which need to be done to achieve the company’s objectives. They also know that being brave may mean having to go 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.

An example of this is a play by Atlassian, a technology company, who put in place programs to create a culture of innovation. They weren’t afraid to take employees away from their desks and from their work, as they felt that amazing outcomes are achieved by teams, so they created programs such as “20% time” and “ShipIt” to give employees time to focus solely on innovation. These deliver positive results to the company and at the same time engages employees by giving them a sense of autonomy and feeling of being valued.

We invite you to be a rebel and join what we call our “rebelution.” We’re not going to say it’s easy, because change can be difficult, but we promise you, it will be well worth it — for your company and for your employees!

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