Imagine a never-ending industry conference… where any time, day or night, you can jump into a fascinating session. A moderator leads the discussion and topic-specific experts offer insight and experienced-based knowledge. An infinite number rooms exists, and you can choose to participate, ask questions or simply listen in. This is the new Clubhouse App, and at the start of December 2020, the invite only “audio drop-in app” had just 3,500 members around the world. Just 30 days later, the Clubhouse app boasted over 600,000 members. How could unions use the Clubhouse app to organize your employees? It’s private, there’s no record of what’s discussed, and open to anyone with an invitation.
Social Media Examiner says that the Clubhouse app could become, potentially, “a breakout social platform.” Now, before you roll your eyes and say, “oh, no, not ANOTHER platform to pay attention to,” we want you to pause and consider how the communication and discussion utilized by Clubhouse differs in its strengths for union organizing. No comments, no likes, the ability to schedule rooms and topics and let your followers know to join you… for all these reasons and more, this is a union organizer’s dream platform. Without a solid preventive strategy in place, the Clubhouse app could seriously challenge your ability to maintain your direct connection with your employees.
Clubhouse utilizes live audio sessions to allow people to listen and actively participate in discussions both inside and outside of “clubs.” The app encourages every user to create and join their own audio chat rooms on any number of topics. Moderators, gain followers, and when the room ends, that conversation is gone. Some rooms last for minutes, some for hours and others for days, with a passing of the moderator baton. And when one room ends, there are an endless number of other rooms available. Attend in your PJs, eat your lunch while you listen; the Clubhouse app is essentially an endless stream-of-consciousness party with all the best minds in attendance. There’s no private messaging, no chat, and absolutely no direct sales.
Similar to a podcast, you can simply listen to others talking together on the app while you go about your day. Additionally, your experience on Clubhouse depends on the interests you self-identify, the topics you choose to search for, the people you follow, and the content you seek out. As a user, you instinctively surround yourself with like-minded people who have similar interests.
How Union Organizers Could Use the Clubhouse App
In addition to hosting discussions between venture capitalists, the Clubhouse app has attracted celebrities hosting talk shows, “D.J. nights, networking events, speed dating, theatrical performances, and political discussions.” So you may be thinking, ‘Meh, sounds like every other social platform.” But Clubhouse is all about bringing together like-minded people. These like-minded people share concepts, and reinforce their beliefs. In short, it’s a great place to commiserate – to exercise the right to talk with co-workers about wages and benefits or other working conditions. A perfect platform to discuss a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions.
With its rapid initial growth, it stands to reason that the Clubhouse app will continue to grow in 2021. The current political climate and a growing number of work-from-home employees looking for a way to connect with others reinforce that prediction. This means that corporate leaders at every level need to strengthen the company’s connection with team members and request feedback on a frequent basis. Positive employee relations will decrease the likelihood of employees expressing grievances outside of the workplace. Opening up the subject of union organizing will allow you to discuss and de-escalate anything that could potentially be an issue that union organizers might exploit.
Union Organizers Can Take Advantage of Current Employee Frustration
Clubhouse creates the perfect scenario for union organizers seeking out frustrated and disgruntled employees. By creating topic rooms with titles like “Improving working conditions at your company” or “Hazard pay during the pandemic,” this is the perfect chance to stirring up discontent and create a rallying point for a wide variety of union organizing activity. Union organizers can create discussions and invite endless amounts of people to listen to them, making promises, listening to complaints, and essentially finding new “prospects” for their business. Many employees may not realize that unions often make promises to offer benefits that employees already have.
But now that you’re aware of how union organizers can use the Clubhouse app to organize your employees, now is not the time for worry – it’s the time for action. Focus on your positive employee relations strategy to protect not only your organization from third-party intervention but your employees from false or misleading promises.
If you’d like to start your own Clubhouse Club for employees, here’s how to do that.
Action Steps and Your Positive Employee Relations Strategy
First, get the Clubhouse app for yourself. While it’s currently invite-only, there are a huge (and growing!) number of human resources and labor relations professionals, and the likelihood that you’ll get an invite is high. Participate in a few rooms, join a few clubs – understand what it’s all about – and that there are huge benefits for professionals in our industry!
Next, get started on – or start refreshing and reinforcing – your positive employee relations strategy with best practices that protect your company. Your strategy should consider the full employee engagement journey, communicating, connecting with, and engaging team members at every step of the lifecycle. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter what new “break out” app or social media platform disrupts things – if you’re prepared, employees will have no use for an organizers’ empty promises.
Having a strong connection, communication, and culture in your workplace is of the utmost importance to protect your employees and your company. Additionally, maintaining an open-door policy where your employees feel confident that their voices are being heard is critical to creating an issue-free workplace and forming a strong bond between leadership and employees.
Begin by communicating with new hires the company’s desire to maintain a direct connection between employees and leaders. Address leader needs with labor training and soft skills to help navigate today’s workplace. Prepare for organizing in the hope you never experience it. Provide leaders with the knowledge and information they need. Train your HR team on what it takes to maintain a union-free workforce. The bottom line is that companies who have connected both leaders and employees to their ideal culture are far less likely to succumb to union-organizing efforts.
“Projections provided us with innovative, interactive, and most importantly, effective methods of communication. The results of the election alone prove the effectiveness of your programs and ideas!”
-Marty Martensen, a Partner of Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP
We’d love to help you connect with team members and gain the confidence that comes with developing a solid positive employee relations strategy ahead of any union organizing efforts.