Strikes; are they harmful to reputation?

I was pulling up to the entrance of Southmead hospital yesterday morning when I noticed a  relatively small group of protestors at the gates. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the first day of a 48-hour strike held by junior doctors across the UK.

Today, 5,000 procedures and operations in the UK will be canceled due to junior doctors striking in a bid to get their voices heard by the government amongst proposals to change their contracts. And yes, we have to take into account that it’s a government organisation so the usual PR protocol doesn’t necessarily stand here… But it’s still creating an interesting buzz.

The media began by arguably vilifying the situation, now we have more information on their reasons for striking, we realise that perhaps there’s more than meets the eye and we’re hearing the voices of the people it’s directly affecting which is consequently creating masses of online conversation. This isn’t a post on junior doctor strikes, but seeing the small demonstration in Bristol yesterday had me thinking about the severity of striking.

Is striking harmful to an organisation?

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Well, like every different subject relating to this industry my answer is; “it depends”.

Striking has the potential to be harmful for a reputation because it suggests that there’s a dispute within the organisation and forces light onto the internal workings of said organisation. This affects reputation due to the fact that it can be alarming to consumers. Trust can be lost and once it’s lost, it’s extremely difficult to regain.

According to the Quoted Companies Alliance and BDO, the combined reputations of all UK-listed companies was valued at £1.7 trillion in 2015. This figure surprises some because you can’t reach out and touch reputation, it’s easy to talk about but managing reputation is a long and sometimes costly process.

The junior doctor strikes highlight the importance of the fact that any given business or organisation – governmentally funded or not – must plan for issues. The reputation of a business is priceless, you can’t do enough to nurture it. It’s highly unlikely that a strike will turn into a crisis, but it is an issue. As long as you plan and prepare for issues relative to this, you can avoid them and bypass damage to your own reputation.

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