case study:
Dansk Metal

How to get close to union members by taking a step back?


Like other trade unions, Dansk Metal experiences that some member segments are at risk of ending their membership during periods of life where they are settled, but not yet thinking about retirement. Dansk Metal wanted to explore new opportunities to retain these members by increasing their relevance and value.


Instead of asking what members wanted from their membership, we turned our attention to the members’ everyday lives with a more human-centred question: what is a meaningful work life and what stands in the way of making it a reality? Taking our findings, we turned our attention to what role Dansk Metal could play in helping to create that great work life.


We identified four unmet needs that pose an opportunity for Dansk Metal to be present and relevant in members’ everyday work lives. We developed a set of opportunity spaces where Dansk Metal through new member-oriented initiatives can strengthen their relationship with their members.

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Identifying the opportunities for Dansk Metal to be present in the everyday lives of those who are settled, but are not yet thinking about retirement.

the challenge

Within a competitive landscape of trade unions, Dansk Metal want to create more value and stay relevant and attractive to their members through their entire working lives.

The level of trade union memberships in the Danish labour market is declining. In particular, the younger generation relate less with the value of trade unions and their role in securing good working conditions in the labour market. Retention is all about being and staying attractive, and Dansk Metal has the ambition to retain members via relevant initiatives throughout the entire working life of its members. This ambition led to the question of relevant value creation for the different groups, and especially how to stay relevant for certain ‘high risk’ members. To this end, Dansk Metal found it crucial to get a new perspective and better understanding of what unmet needs their member groups have before developing new initiatives to strengthen the retention.

the approach

With a point of departure in the everyday work life of members rather than the explicit relationship with their union, we provided an outside-in perspective, opening up the space for innovation.

We facilitated focus groups with members from five different industries to map out key important themes in their working lives, while also gaining an understanding of their experience and perception of Dansk Metal. Through this overview, we decided on which member groups and themes to explore even further through ethnographic interviews. We then visited them at work, to get our hands dirty and sense how the context of their workplace influenced their needs, and what role Dansk Metal could play in that context. We heard stories highlighting how a balanced work-life, social benefits, education and acknowledgement were important aspects in a meaningful work life and captured their reflections on unions creating value in this regard. The fieldwork laid the foundation for developing anthropological insights and identifying new opportunities for Dansk Metal.

"Working together with IIAB has given us valuable insights in relation to the important and ongoing work of creating value for the members and being relevant to them. The qualitative insights are a good and necessary supplement to the more quantitative measurements we make"
Hanne Ahrensbøll, Head of Communications at Dansk Metal
The Result

The insights and opportunity spaces provided a solid foundation for decision making and strategic prioritisation of initiatives and services.

We delivered anthropological insights on members’ critical needs in their working life and recommendations on the role Dansk Metal could play in meeting these needs. Based on the insights, we identified opportunity spaces together with internal stakeholders, that could work as innovation drivers. Our insights have confirmed some internal assumptions about the members, as well as nuancing existing data on member loyalty and satisfaction, and has also given Dansk Metal completely new ways of understanding and seeing who their members are. Our work has provided a reality-check informing the crucial next steps Dansk Metal should take to strengthen the relationship with certain member groups as well as facilitated internal conversations on how Dansk Metal overall can stay relevant in a changing labour market.

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Interested to find out more? Contact the

Dansk Metal

case owner

Emilie Baage Stuhr
Director & Partner 71 74 14 40