The Wrong Way to Respond to Employee Activism

Source: Megan Reitz, John Higgins, and Emma Day-Duro, Harvard Business Reivew, February 26, 2021

Leaders tend to be ill-equipped to handle outspoken employees. But with employee activism on the rise, leaders need to be wary of mishandling their response. These missteps can be damaging for leaders and companies, which can suffer from reputational damage and ongoing employee unrest. The authors’ research into how employees speak up at work and politics in the workplace have shown that three fundamental traps snare leaders facing activism from their employees: over-optimism, a belief that you can be apolitical, and a rush to quick fixes. By better understanding where each of these approaches go wrong, leaders can chart a better course, one that is built on a more authentically engaged leadership.