Virtual Picket Lines and Brand Shaming Extend Far Beyond the Workplace

January 11, 2021

laptop on desk facing window Challenges Against Employers Continue to Evolve with Remote Workforces

With many companies opting for a remote approach to work, fleets of employees have had to adapt, seeking out new mediums for communication. Social media has become the new digital tool for employees to talk and share their gripes. Office gossip has moved from the water cooler to public forums like Twitter and Facebook.

Businesses are now facing a spike in worker complaints and protests, in a completely digital form. Brand shaming, complaints, and allegations of all kinds against an employer have escalated in 2020, fueled by social media and the conversations it promotes.

Expect Virtual Picket Lines as a New Normal for Employers

Virtual picket lines could potentially reach more members of the public in comparison to an on-site picket line. Social media has the ability to spread virtual picket content far beyond your local community. This type of picketing can also solicit sympathy from the public, motivating protesters to continue their strike and further complicate and extend labour negotiations.

In Europe, medical couriers staged a completely virtual picket line against their employer during the spring months of 2020. Those who attended the event via video conference call each had individual screen-time to record and discuss their demands, with the entire three-hour session published publicly on YouTube. The video documentation was shared and caused significant problems for the employer’s brand, reputation, and key business relationships.

White iPhone with apps on the screen The Mob-Mentality of Social Media

Social media has given a voice to just about anyone in the world, allowing people to plug into a global community within seconds and write about anything they want. Facebook groups bring together large workforces, family members, and even business partners, giving them the free tools needed to share ideas and spread a complaint instantly.

Time and again, social media has proven to be a breeding ground for angry individuals of all kinds to connect with like-minded individuals and organize amongst themselves. Workforces can gather and discuss their grievances in a public forum, effectively offering employees an avenue to organize and stage protests very quickly. Social media can put thousands of eyes on one employee’s complaint and amplify any ongoing issues between employee and employer.

The Emergence of Online Brand Shaming

In some instances, videos or photos can be shared online and receive widespread brand shaming from the general public. One retailer in North America felt the wrath of public shaming when an employee shared negative photos of their workplace online. It resulted in a public campaign, encouraging consumers to take their business elsewhere.

Employers are at the mercy of the digital world, and instances of widespread public backlash can have a major impact on a company’s revenue and productivity. One negative photo can lead to millions of dollars in damages.

Picket line of angry workers being blocked by 2 AFIMAC security guards Labour Dispute, Picket Line, and Strike Solutions Offered by AFIMAC

AFIMAC is highly experienced in managing the complications of labour disruptions and work stoppages of all kinds. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of labour negotiations, strikes, and picket lines, forcing both workers and employees to adapt on the fly.

Since 1982, AFIMAC has assisted more than 5,000 image-conscious clients of all sizes and in every industry, plan for business disruptions and picket lines, both physically and virtually.

AFIMAC provides a range of strike and labour disruption services for companies preparing or experiencing a strike. Contact us directly to learn more.
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