Workforce Activism Consulting Services | Gagen MacDonald

Our Focus

Employee Activism

We bring a blend of relevant employee relations expertise to help strategize, diffuse and mitigate workforce activism.

Today, numerous societal forces are fundamentally redefining the relationship between corporations and their employees.

From the shifting attitudes and expectations of an increasingly diverse population to the maturation of digital natives and empowering effects of social media, workforce change is all around us.

One of the most visible — and vexing — byproducts of this changing relationship has been the rise of workplace activism. While the news media tends to focus on high-profile incidents in household-name companies, employee activism has become an increasingly common phenomenon spanning industries, geographies and the age, race or political leanings of employees.

As employee relations consultants, we’ve seen first-hand as workforce activism takes root.

When management actions seem to become disconnected from an organization’s stated values and expressed beliefs, this disconnect causes tension. When workers feel powerless or proper avenues fail to exist, employees advocate for change by new means: they go public. This can result in damage to brand, reputation and operations.

The employee activism we see today is a new expression of an age-old dynamic. For as long as companies have existed, when friction has occurred between employees and executive leaders, employees have banded together to take collective action.

So Cal Gas small
Case Studies

The Southern California Gas Company

Mobilizing internal advocates to advance corporate reputation and public policy.

Having helped many organizations navigate these flash points, our workforce consulting experience teaches us a few keys.

First, the best way to prevent employee activism is to make sure employees at all levels are exposed to your corporate strategy.

While it can seem unnecessary to dwell on strategic objectives that exist out of sight on a daily basis, the more complete an understanding employees have of why certain business decisions are made and how they impact the future, the more likely you are to quickly find common ground when a disconnect occurs. You can’t build understanding when you’re working from two different sets of facts.

Second, systems of dialogue must exist and actively take place to maintain employee relations.

When executives and employees talk, you not only share information but build trust. With trust comes perspective, patience and allowance. Our deep expertise in employee relations consulting involves building organizational dialogue: not only structuring communication systems but coaching and developing leaders (including and especially middle managers, whose roles are crucial) and creating cultures that encourage collaboration.

When these workforce conditions exist together, the odds of an ugly and prolonged bout of activism diminish enormously.