e-mocracy at workNiall Ferguson coined the term more broadly in the Sunday Times:“… we no longer live in a democracy. We live in an “e-mocracy”, where emotions rather than majorities rule and feelings matter more than reason. The stronger your feelings — the better you are at working yourself into a fit of indignation — the more influence you have … and never use words where emojis will do.”We are all used to complaining via social media that amplifies the issue and puts pressure on the target through viral escalation—why would work be any different? New ways of exercising voice, individually and collectively, are spreading from the High Street and the social networking habits of individuals and into the workplace. And they seem to work!E-mocracy = emotions made public and amplified by an App or social networking site.The unintended activistSome people identify a target for action and develop a comprehensive plan to have an issue go viral—or to support a traditional campaign with a social media element. “Fight for 15” is a great example of shaming service providers over their wage levels by putting stories into the public domain and organizing “pop up protests” around the world. We will get to that one.But some of the highest impact issues were not well planned, or even planned at all. Think about Susan Fowler and her blog piece, “It’s been a strange year at Uber.” She had a point to make about the leadership style of Travis Kalanick—but do you think she planned to get him fired? Do you think the individual who videoed and posted the meeting at Carrier in Indianapolis announcing the production move to Mexico really thought she was about to have a huge influence on the U.S. presidential election? These are today’s unintended activists. They arise simply because when managers and companies behave badly or have to make difficult decisions there is a world audience ready to lap up the resulting blogs, posts, and videos. Surely, one might counter, people don’t believe everything they read on Facebook! Well, 55% of U.S. adults this year said they got their current affairs news from social media!!Social media gives individual workers the (unintended) ability to take the “inside outside,” to make public what would once have stayed within company walls. Building walls is so yesterday.ObjectionismIn most parts of the world, there are provisions that protect the rights of workers who raise issues relating to their terms and conditions of employment. Rules on Protected Concerted Activity are the U.S. version, and include protection for concerted activity through social media. But what happens when workers resort to public social media campaigns about the products they make, who they sell them to, or the uses to which they are put? Who even knew that major U.S. companies were selling facial recognition software to China? We all do now. How did an online retailer end out with a strike (sorry, my bad—#walkout—see below) because their products were sold to the government for use in immigration processing facilities on the Mexican border? “Objectionism” has also moved what people expect from an employment relationship into politics, with employees demanding “their” companies take a stand on laws (immigration, for example) or financial support for particular politicians or their parties.“Objectionism” = employee voice moving beyond expressing grievances about “employment conditions” to demanding a say on the business, political, and social orientation of the companies they work for.Pop up protestsPop up stores are an essential feature of our shopping streets today. A budding entrepreneur finds a stock of goods at a fantastic price, takes a short lease on a vacant retail store (there are plenty of them), and opens up for a day or a week offering bargain basement deals and then closes down. Want a piece of the action? Just find a bargain, visit “appearhere.us” to find fantastic locations around the world, open up, sell out, close down—why would anyone bother with fixed locations, rents, maintenance, infrastructure, or HR departments? People love them: they are cheap, accessible, and fun.Why go to all the trouble of following grievance procedures at work when you can have just as much fun and be more successful with a more modern approach? Think about this in employee relations terms—a “pop-up” protest is one that arises out of an immediate event that gets traction with employees, uses no formal or ongoing organization, is cheap to organize, and fun and fulfilling to participate in. As in pop-up stores, there is no need for infrastructure, members, fees, buildings, rents—you’ve got it—no need for unions.Now this is not new. When WalMart acquired (then sold) a German retailer, protesting students organized flash mobs of young people who would go to a store, fill their carts, get cashed out at multiple pay stations—and then claim they couldn’t pay. The learning guys have their MOOCs (massive online open courses). The #walkout is the employee relations equivalent.The MSM (mainstream media) love pop-up protests and such coverage helps the organizers define the issue and get the target company in the crosshairs#Walkout“Strike” is such a nasty and aggressive term. Who but a class warrior would want to use it these days? All those meetings, ballots, pickets, and loss of pay. #Walkouts are the generic term for “pop-up protests” that involve work stoppages by people who would never dream of going on “strike.” Strikes are about me seeking to gain personally through an act of aggression: “walkouts are about collective actions involving like-minded friends who aim to produce a better and fairer society through minor acts of disruption. They are “almost” spontaneous, organized fast whilst emotions are high, are not about pay and conditions but about unacceptable behaviors, are short and punishing, attract attention, are fun or emotionally satisfying to participate in, and involve little or no loss of salary.Pop-up protests meet the emotional needs of the “existential activists,” more concerned with personal values that an extra $ on their pay check.Clicktivism to App-tivism“Clicktivism” is where it all started. Employees post comments, pictures or videos, “friends” or “followers” like them, they amplify exponentially with every “like”—and some go viral. Trending issues are trawled by mainstream and web-based media and the feeding frenzy goes on. Clicktivism is what drove the Carrier video to more than 4 million views in 48 hours. Viral exposure comes through the acts of individuals behaving alone simply clicking and moving on. Clicktivism allow you to “participate” without getting off your computer chair.“Apptivism” is where collective actions are built. Like-minded individuals gather together to support (or oppose) an issue using one of the many applications like “ WhatsApp” in the west and “Weibo” in China and engage in continuous dialogue and organize actions. It might be a group of football supporters deciding what bar to meet in or a group of employees organizing collective voice. Who needs to meet up in a works car park, spread leaflets around cafeterias, or go to cold union halls anyway?Unlike “clicktivism,” “Apptivism” asks you to get off your chair—but not for long!—and at a time convenient to yourself.