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Defiant worker © iStock
© iStock
05 December 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal 


More than 80 per cent of organisations expect to be dealing with a rise in workforce activism over the next three to five years, with one in three senior executives suggesting workforce activism is one of the top three risks to their organisation’s reputation.


The Future of Work study by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills found that fears around automation replacing human workers – a longstanding insecurity for the workforce – will be a key trigger for such activism, followed by pay and benefits, and environmental concerns.

How might this activism manifest itself? Through social media groups, digital petitions and a collective approach to whistleblowing. Many will organise through tech platforms, but it’s also a case of a wider range of causes. Recent corporate response to single-use plastics in the workplace is in no small way the result of employee activism, and wider issues of social change are of more importance to the shifting workplace demographic.

The report shows that it’s increasingly likely that agency and contract workers are involved as well as direct employees. All told, those managing the workplace need to be able to respond.

So our question, as we head into the third decade of the 21st century, is this: how do you and your organisation deal with workforce campaigns for change? What’s the overlap with HR? And how do you ensure you’re on top of any problems so that workers don’t feel the need to band together and demand solutions?

Here’s our poll question:

How do you deal with potential workplace activism issues:

  • Yes, we have a policy for it
  • We don’t address workplace activism directly
  • We deal with cases on an ad-hoc basis


As ever, we want to hear of any experiences you’ve had and the ways in which you’ve managed to quell any serious discontent. 

To enter the poll, click here

Email news editor Herpreet Grewal with any longer comments: [email protected]