9 tips for averting industrial action

CRASH COURSE: The junior doctors' strike has shown how damaging it can be when a dispute turns into industrial action. Here's how to stop simmering disagreements turning toxic.

by Alexander Garrett
Credit: Nick Shepherd
Credit: Nick Shepherd

1. Avoid personalising it. 'The junior doctors' dispute became both personal and political, with Jeremy Hunt putting himself so much at the fore,' says Andy Cook, an employee/industrial relations adviser to boards and executives at Marshall-James. 'But when egos come into play, it's always a mistake because that person can't be seen to back down.'

2. Leave it to the experts. 'Leaders can set broad parameters for policy, but they shouldn't meddle when negotiations are moving forward,' says Roger Seifert, professor of industrial relations and human resources management at the University of Wolverhampton Business School. 'Let negotiators negotiate.'

3. Invest in line managers. 'One of the factors in having good employee relations is having line managers who are versed in people skills and are equipped with the necessary tools and behaviours,' says Cook. 'For most employees their immediate boss has more impact on how they feel about the organisation than their overall boss.'

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