Reaching younger workers – how to build your branch

Published date
Next time you are at a team meeting a work, or looking at all your colleagues in a zoom meeting, ask yourself, how many of the people in this room are union members? How many of the younger people on this call are union members? If the answer is “not many” then here are five ways you can build your branch today.

1) Recruiting new members

The first thing you need to do is to map your workplace. You need to know where people work, on what patterns and how often. You can either get hold of a staff rota and cross reference that with your membership list or by speak to people in different departments.

Depending on the size of your workplace this can be a big task so don’t feel as if you need to do it all in one go, or by yourself. Getting others to help is a good way to foster team work.

Once you have this info it will give you a fuller picture of what you're working with. It will help you understand patterns in your membership, for example are your members mainly in one department or of the same demographic?  If so, what are you going to do to address that?

Find more instructions on how to do a mapping exercise in our Reaching younger workers toolkit

2) Pass on your knowledge

One of the ways we can bring new reps into the fold is to pass on your experiences.

As a rep you have so much knowledge and expertise but what’s going to happen when you move on, or retire? 

Mentoring a young member or group of members to take your place is one way to pass on that knowledge so it’s not lost when you leave.

You can also create space for young reps to grow, for example if you are the union rep and the Health and Safety rep, can you coach a young member to take one of those positions from you?

3) Use social media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok…

We all know that social media can help us communicate with people we don’t see every day. But where do you start with using it within your union? 

First, think about why you want to use social media. Is it to recruit new members? Or to create a supportive community for the members already in your branch?

Then, think about your target audience.

Which platform do they use most often? Now, think about content.

What will your target audience like best? Useful advice? Uplifting memes?

Finally, think about you. What do you have time and skills to be able to achieve? Your union can help with training if you need it.

Remember that social media doesn’t replace good old-fashioned face to face conversations when it comes to organising.

But when used well it can be a great way of reaching new audiences, building relationships and highlighting the great work your union is doing. It can also be a lot of fun so get stuck in today!

4) Keep on learning

The world of work is rapidly changing and as reps, the skills we need to represent members and engage with them is changing too. That’s why we need to ensure that are skills are always up to date.

Wales TUC’s trade union education offers all sorts of free online and classroom-based learning, and of course, the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) is also there to help. You can also learn tips and tricks from fellow reps by coming to one of our networking events.

5) Look after yourself

Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

They say self-care is giving the world the best of you, rather than what's left of you. Being a rep can be an extremely rewarding role.  But it can also be emotionally and physically draining.

You can't represent your members to the best of your ability if you’re burnt out yourself.

Take time out when you need it, and try to share the rep load with the branch rather than taking it all on your shoulders. It’s great that you care, but you also need to care for you.

Make a list of all of the things you’re proud you’ve achieved as a rep. Keep it close by and look at it for inspiration when things feel tough.

What will you do today to make sure you’re giving the world the best of you?

Finally... embrace change

We know that with new members come new ideas, new ways of doing things and new ways of winning. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, but together we could build a movement ready to take on the challenges of the future.

HeartUnions week is a great time to put in motion some of the tips above. As unions we need to be doing all we can to reach out to new members, and to younger members. If you need any further advice on how to grow your branch contact us on