How Employee Activism Gets Around

August 10, 2019

How Employee Activism Gets Around

One of the questions we asked in our survey on Employee Activism was regarding the kinds of tools people used to speak up against or in support of their employers when it came to hot button social issues. We were surprised to learn that word of mouth was at the top of the list (45%), considerably ahead of work-provided email (18%). Millennials were more likely than GenXers and Booomers to mention word-of-mouth as an organizing tool.

I had originally thought that work-provided email would be the network of choice to help organize others to speak up and out. Coincidentally, while I was musing this over in my head about how that could be, I came across an article about the Google employee walkout and saw that word of mouth was a part of how that campaign evolved. One of the organizers of the blog post announcing the protest said, “The [Times] article provided a narrow window into a culture we, as Google employees, know well.  These stories are our stories. We share them in hushed tones to trusted peers, friends, and partners. There are thousands of us, at every level of the company. And we’ve had enough.” It sounds as if the discussions about what needed to be improved were already under way but it took a spark to get it concrete and actionable.

Another tool that was mentioned and perhaps will only grow larger was town halls (13%). As more leaders confront the employee activist movement within their own domains, we are likely to hear about more town hall meetings where issues can be raised and solutions discussed. This is also a way for leaders to keep a pulse on employee opinions, the most important leadership advice I can offer to be prepared.

More to come on this rising movement.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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