Organise in your workplace

Organising together is crucial to achieving positive change in our workplaces. Good organising leads to lots of members feeling activated around an issue, strengthening the campaign for change.

A team collaboratively working around a table outside

What is ‘organising’?

You’ll notice that we often talk about recruitment and organising in the same sentence. But what exactly does organising mean? In an environment where some employers strongly assert their rights to the disadvantage of employees, it’s crucial that union members work together to resolve issues at workplace level.

People work together in clubs, churches, schools and communities because it gets results. So working together, or organising, makes sense. Organising is all about:

  • identifying issues that will activate members and engage potential members
  • involving members in decision-making on major priorities in the workplace
  • supporting local workplace representatives
  • developing the skills of local representatives in performing their role
  • generally improving communication with members.

Prospect employs a team of organisers to help branches work in this way. You can find Bectu’s organiser list here.

Organising around issues

This means identifying a current workplace issue that staff feel strongly about and using it as the focal point of your recruitment and organising effort.

It could be a reaction to an unpopular management proposal or a pro-active union campaign. It could be a major or an apparently trivial issue. As long as it engages the attention of staff, and Prospect is trying to do something about, it’s an organising issue:

  • publicise it: produce leaflets and posters, hold a meeting
  • tell people what you’re trying to achieve
  • make sure non-members are aware that they don’t have a say and can’t influence the outcome unless they join.

Potential members are more likely to sign up if they see that you’re working to resolve or improve something that affects them personally. You’ll also raise the union’s profile among existing members and remind them of the value of their membership.

See our key dates calendar, which includes some great ideas of dates to organise around

Getting organised

Building up membership and keeping in touch with your members is vital for improving local representation and getting results in negotiations. However, the process doesn’t happen all by itself. Prospect can’t organise everything from the centre – we need you!

Here are 10 top tips to organise well:

1. Be clear why you are targeting a certain group or area

Will it increase Prospect’s membership? Will it help the union to make progress on important issues for your membership? What are your goals?

2. Set short and long-term objectives

Know what you want to achieve by organising. Above all, be realistic. Have a plan, but be flexible – your best opportunities aren’t always in Plan A or even Plan B!

3. Manage your time

Timing is crucial. Are you arranging a one-off event or an on-going campaign? Have a timeline to guide you if you need it.

Think about external events that are happening that could either help you push your campaign or dates that you might want to avoid – sometimes there is a risk that campaigns can get lost if there is a big event or high-profile occasion happening at the same time.

4. Research and canvass opinion

Find out as much as you can about the target group and the issues facing people. Make no assumptions. Use the knowledge of people around you and don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues and your organiser about experiences elsewhere.

5. What resources can you use?

Remember that your members are resources and different people have different skills – make the most of them. Will your employer support you too? Great if they do! Make sure to ask…

Our reps’ hub has a number of resources that you can print or use digitally, too.

6. Share the work out

Volunteers on your committee can share organising tasks, from simply communicating with members to arranging meetings and escalating actions. You probably can’t be in every one of your members’ workplaces – but you can have your people there!

7. Build relationships

Everywhere! And with everyone who could help you: managers, Bectu officers, organisers and Bectu volunteers in your own branch.

Don’t wait until you need something specific – it’s always easier to approach someone in a time of need if you’ve contacted them before. Even if you don’t have a campaign going on right now, it’s always helpful when you are organising if you know as many Bectu members and volunteers as possible so get in touch with them today!

8. Keep momentum

Once you have something going, keep energy levels as high as you can – refresh communications, think of new angles, involve new people, think of new ways to target people. The more varied your communications, the more people you are likely to get interested.

9. Review and plan for the future

It’s always helpful to evaluate campaigns and organising efforts. Be honest about the challenges you faced and what worked and what didn’t. Talk things through and learn for next time. Don’t be disheartened if some ventures don’t work out: you learn valuable lessons from failure as well as success!

10. Thanks

Don’t forget to thank those around you who played a part, no matter how small. Give yourself praise too, and celebrate your achievements.

Need help or tips for organising?

Get in touch with us. We have a dedicated team of organisers who are greatly experienced in organising at work.
Contact your organiser