Adams, Nash, Haskell and Sheridan

The Growing Impact of Social Media on Employees, Unions, and Labor Relations

According to The Pew Research Center, 92% of Millennials owned a smartphone in 2018 while 85% of Millennials used social media. On the other side of the spectrum in 2018, only 67% of Baby Boomers owned a smartphone and only 57% of Baby Boomers used social media. points out that social media users grew by 121 million Q2 2017 and Q3 2017, which works out to a new social media user every 15 seconds.

This is creating a whole new communications environment for employers, employees, and unions. Social media provides a platform to communicate instantly and discreetly across locations and time zones. As Millennials become a larger and larger part of the workforce, traditional methods of communication will become outdated and obsolete.

With the NLRB’s 2015 ruling on the acceptance of electronic signatures and a number of unions becoming more and more comfortable with social media use, employers may be facing an uphill battle in future organizational attempts. By utilizing social media, future union campaigns could move with lightning speed, taking the employer by complete surprise.

The main ingredient for a positive employee relations program continues to be a good working relationship between first line managers and their employees, but as illustrated above, it is also very important for companies to become more aware and familiar with social media use. Union avoidance training can heighten managers’ perceptions of the importance of monitoring social media and how effectively communicating to employees via social media will help employers successfully counter a campaign by a union or other third party.


Eric Kerkhoff
Adams, Nash, Haskell & Sheridan

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