Forget the Great Resignation - the Great Rebellion is coming

ByHanover Team
Posting date: 15 December 2022

Over 80% of businesses were affected by the so-called Great Resignation that followed the periods of lockdown, when employees left their jobs dissatisfied primarily with the lack of flexibility and hybrid working policies. But while many businesses felt its repercussions, the Great Resignation was a personal choice, down to each individual.


What businesses might be facing now, however, is a collective uprising. With more employees than ever dissatisfied with their work/life balance, reduced opportunities for working from home and even company u-turns on how often they should be going into the office, businesses might be looking down the barrel of organised rebellion.

What is the Great Rebellion?

The Great Rebellion, a phrase coined by Forbes journalist Lindsay Kohler, is a collective revolt against unfairness in the workplace. 


That could mean many things - low pay, the gender pay gap, a negative culture - but the thing I want to focus on for the purposes of this article centres on flexibility and hybrid working. This has become so important for so many people, and we’ve proven that working from home is possible, that to take it away now is sparking a backlash.

What has led to the Great Rebellion?

Collective uprising isn’t new - public service strikes and industrial action are prime examples. But the Great Rebellion extends to white collar workers who were forced to work from home during the pandemic, proved it could be done successfully, realised they had a better work/life balance and now want to maintain it.


Sounds fair, right? A lot of businesses agree, but implementing a hybrid workplace comes with extensive challenges. When should people be in the office? Should certain days be mandatory? Can employees choose when to come in?


Many businesses mandated three days in the office when we were allowed to come back, and that was poorly received - quickly proven by employee surveys. A study by Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) showed that even when companies tried to force three days in the office, employees only went in on average for 2.1 days. While some businesses then moved to a two-days-in-the-office policy, the study also showed that the average attendance is 1.45 days.


There are a few reasons for this, on top of having a successful work/life balance. Travel is expensive, whether you’re commuting by rail or car (and trains are currently and notoriously unreliable). The cost of living has also pushed up food costs - three lunches per week adds up. And if you’re going into the office while a partner works from home, you also have to cover energy and food costs there.

6 actions companies can take to combat the Great Rebellion

So, what can employers do to support employees and foster a positive work environment while encouraging people to come into the office? Here are some ideas…

1. Incentivisation

Incentivising employees to come back into the office with something that really matters to them will help. For example, that could be a free breakfast, subsidised lunch or travel support.

2. Listening & understanding

There has to be a balance between incentivisation and forcing people to do what they’re contractually obliged to do. Businesses should try to strike a balance between employees’ personal lives and expounding the benefits of working in the office, such as collaboration, the social aspect, the ability to brainstorm and have water cooler conversations, etc. It’s also important to listen to what you employees want and work together to find a solution that works for everyone. 

3. Flexibility

Being agile and flexible is key - pushing too hard to get everyone to come into the office simply pushes people in the opposite direction. We’ve seen this with the challenges that businesses that have mandated a return have been through - including the workforce leaving en masse.

4. A positive workplace

Want people to want to come into the office? Create a reason (or several reasons) why. A positive workplace, one that’s inclusive, dynamic, fun and provides opportunities for development and advancement is a good place to start. Plus, it will greatly improve your efficiency and productivity.

5. Focus on wellbeing

Wellbeing isn’t a buzzword, it’s incredibly important in the workplace. When our sense of wellbeing is intact, we are productive, collaborative and our vitality levels are high. We also have the capacity to work more and do greater quality work; we’re switched on and have focus. Companies that focus on wellbeing simply have a stronger workforce that’s more likely to be loyal.

6. Appreciate & reward

Roz Sheldon, managing director of Igniyte, says that employees who are rebelling are likely to be those “who know they are a valuable employee to their company and feel they are high performing, but are frustrated by the decisions made by leadership”. Taking the time to appreciate and reward employees goes a long way to employee satisfaction. You may have to reconsider how you do this and what your goals and parameters are in a hybrid working environment, but it should be a priority focus.

Interested in finding out more about how I can help you help your employees through the Great Rebellion? Get in touch with me directly and let’s arrange a time to chat.

Get to know our team
by selecting your area of interest: