The HR Rebellion Includes Engaging Employees. Here’s A New Playbook To Help You.


Rebels are few and far between.  But when they stick, they stick.

Rosa Parks, David Bowie, #metoo leaders, Galileo, the Star Wars Rebel Alliance, Abe Lincoln, and the rebels in the Paris Uprising of 1832. (OK, they lost, but we got Les Miserables). There is something these rebels have in common:  They take action. They do something. They don’t talk, they do.

And now, with the rise of the internet, we’ve witnessed in real time, our latest rebels – the modern worker.  And this has been very good. Freedoms afforded all through social channels, including instant access to knowledge and the ability to vote through “likes” have become the norm everywhere.  Everywhere, except the workplace. This has been very bad. But never fear, we’ve got a new bunch of rebels changing that. Corporate leader/rebels that have decided to do something to make the workplace a better and more profitable place to work.

These “rebel companies” are highlighted in a new book I a happy to introduce, Build It: The Rebel Playbook, For World-Class Employee Engagement.  Written by Debra Corey and Glenn Elliott of Reward Gateway, they have used their expertise creating employee engagement solutions as a basis for their “Rebel Playbook”.

Why is this important? The playbook spells out to us curious, yet time-crunched “trench HR” pros, how 59 “rebel companies” took baby steps to create engagement cultures. From McDonalds to VaynerMedia, and Krispy Kreme to Brewdog, there are plays for everyone. Did I mention the book spells this out for you.  Did I mention, baby-steps? It makes the impossible, possible.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Debra Corey, and very much liked what she had to say.  She’s what people in the South refer to as, “my people”. A trench HR vet herself, she has worked for the likes of big players like the Gap in addition to smaller tech companies – so she’s seen most everything.


Debra stated, “The companies represented are big and small.  We didn’t just want (to highlight) the “biggies” on purpose.  That being said, all who created successful engagement experiences had a few common themes:

  • They had a strong rebel driving the change.  Sometimes is was HR, sometimes other leaders, but they said things boldly to get attention.
  • There was support from leadership.
  • A majority of the companies saw connection between employee engagement initiatives to the total company engagement experience — including the customer experience”.

Although Debra is seeing a shift in a less “risk-adverse” HR culture, there are still pros that enjoy their place as risk mitigators and rules regulators. This is OK.  “However, some of these people may not be your workplace “rebels”.  These may not be the ones who will lead a cultural shift that centers on employee engagement”.  

Personally speaking, as an HR vet and someone who has read the book, I feel the “non-rebels” will still benefit from The Rebel Playbook. The best risk mitigation is to create an engaged workforce, one that understands the purpose of their work, feels they are being heard, and are connected to the organization.

So go get the book!  It’s a fun, practical read that will be worth the $10 Kindle price! That’s the cost of 2 Starbuck’s Tall Flat Whites. Then let me know what you think. Then be on the lookout for more of my posts about The Playbook, Debra and employee engagement topics.

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Dawn Hrdlica-Burke

VP People & Culture/ Talent Consulting at Kinetix. Advisor. Speaker. Writer.

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