Employee activism isn’t a new concept but it is on the rise right now. This is evident in many ways. The most traditional form of employee activism is labor unions in which workers fight for their rights within a company. There are also other forms of activism like the walkout planned for Amazon’s Prime Day in 2019.
Activism isn’t limited to the business world, however. People can be passionate about making a bigger social change or taking steps to preserve the environment. This is beautifully portrayed by companies like Tom’s who matches donations to shoes purchased or Patagonia’s environmental internship program.
Employee activism can help improve your company and the world around you. But, how do you inspire this in your workforce?
One of the best ways to encourage activism is to organize it. If someone doesn’t know how to contribute to activism efforts, they’re less likely to do it. There are direct ways to do this such as giving financial incentives or even corporate gifts like the Barron Clothing. However, you can offer equivalent donations to the work employees do.
Patagonia, for instance, hosts an annual Bike-to-Work Week. During this week, every mile an employee bikes earn a $1 donation for their local bike advocacy group. This has become a fun institution and it’s growing in popularity. This June, the program saw a 25% increase which amounted to 15,036 miles or $15,036 donated.
There is a lot of activism in the world. With scientific reports on climate changes that are stepping towards fighting humanitarian crises; a lot of people – especially young people – are trying to make a change.
This means your company has to respond to this change in turn. Instead of just working to inspire current employees, become a company that puts environmentalism or charity at the forefront. This will help you obtain a workforce that’s already dedicated to activism.
It can be difficult to inspire activism in someone when the issue you’re focusing on has a degree of separation from them. We want to think that any form of activism would drive employees towards hard work and charity but this isn’t always the case. When an issue doesn’t touch you or if it’s something you don’t relate to, activism can take the backburner.
If someone has chosen a career with your company, they’re dedicated to that field. So, it’s a safe bet to assume that they’ll participate in or support activism related to their job.
For example, Chevron is an energy corporation working with natural gas and oil. In turn, they donate to the economic development of the countries where they drill oil. Similarly, they also aid in funding STEM development programs and female professional empowerment.
Highlighting issues that are relevant to their careers, you’re encouraging your employees to join the cause as well.
Monetary activism pushes employees to make more sales and improve the company’s bottom line. The only way to improve a corporation’s workforce participation is to encourage activities that are directly related to the skills they need for their jobs.
Almost any position has skills that can be utilized for the greater good. Someone trained in marketing would do well organizing a fundraiser while a construction worker can help build homes. This gives them a direct way to help out which is crucial because many people skip out on charity since they don’t feel like their contribution would make a difference in the bigger picture.
All too often, companies resist activism. This plays a big role in staged walkouts and picket lines. You need to be willing to listen to your employees and recognise what they want to be changed.
Internal problems you might run into can include wage equality or arguments for a livable minimum wage. On a more selfish level, adapting to these needs usually gives a company positive press.
There are plenty of issues in the modern world that need to be addressed and activism is a big part of working towards a solution. Luckily, you can take these steps to inspire your employees towards a greater cause.