Using online advice content to help unions find and engage with non-members

The effects of the pandemic have cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, with many more still at risk. Redundancies have especially been a problem in parts of the private sector where unionisation rates are very low. As a result, most workers facing uncertainty at work won’t have a union to turn to. And unions don’t have channels to reach them.

There may be an opportunity for unions to reach out to non-union workers and provide valuable advice content to them. In doing this we could give these workers an initial experience and understanding of unions, learn about their needs, and find other useful ways to engage with them.

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Designing online forms to engage with workers about their work

In the TUC Digital Lab we’ve been doing some research into using different formats of work advice to find and engage with non-member workers. We’ve got more info about this here, but I wanted to start with some interesting lessons we’re drawing from the numbers on how our forms worked, which could be useful to unions seeking to engage non-members for organising projects.

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Testing your union’s new digital services by prototyping

Prototyping is a very important tool when it comes to designing new digital systems. As non-profits, reliant on members’ contributions, unions have to be careful to get the best returns out of any digital spend. Yet the costs for new digital development can run into thousands of pounds.

Building a prototype – the most basic version of your solution that you can test with real users – lets you check if you’re on the right track, and reduces the risk of costly project failures.

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Unions and digital disruptors

TUC Digital Lab report

In recent years, new digital start-ups have changed the faces of whole industries. New entrants have risen to dominance in their sectors and previously major players have collapsed. The pace of change has only intensified with the digital-first response to Covid-19.

Unions aren’t commercial businesses but as organisations we don’t exist in a vacuum. We too can find our position eroded by disruptive innovation if we fail to understand how it works or adapt to it.

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Recruiting hard-to-engage workers on digital during Covid-19

TUC Digital Lab case study with BFAWU

Coronavirus is changing how people work and how unions organise. Face to face contact in every sector is being reduced due to social distancing measures, more employees working from home, workplaces opening and closing due to government lockdowns and significant portions of workers on furlough.

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Benchmarking our digital organising

How we adapt union organising to fit a digital-first world is a critical question for unions. Even before the pandemic we were seeing increasing organising challenges from fragmented workplaces and casualised work. This year though, face to face access to workers has been really hard, and many unions have found it hard too to support activists to organise locally where they do have access.

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