Over the past year, the American public has been inundated by our political process, with a large number of potential candidates and ideas vying for votes and support. Although the number of potential candidates have decreased as the national conventions draw near, the nation is increasingly drawn into debates and heated discussions about both candidates and political issues.
While the presidential election is still six months away, many employers are seeing politics brought into the work environment. The question is how to keep the differences of political opinions from becoming divisive in the office. In Susan Milligan’s article for SHRM “Political Debates in the Workplace: Where to Draw the Line” she points out that “attempting to ban political discussions is not only illegal, but also impossible to enforce from a practical perspective.” However, there are a few things that employers can do to keep personal and political feelings from intruding on the typically genial office atmosphere. The following is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that will helpfully be beneficial in reaching this goal.
- Make sure that employees are aware of any company restrictions on bringing political paraphernalia such as buttons worn, political T-shirts, posters etc., to the office.
- Keep your political views and beliefs private. Lead from the top and restrain from discussing your political views or your views of the candidates.
- Ensure that voting policies are equally administered and enforced. If the company policy is to allow all employees time off to vote, make sure that any employee who wishes to vote is able to do so.
- Allow solicitation of funds for a political candidate. Also, do not make donations for individuals in your office under the umbrella of your organization’s name.
- Attempt to forbid the discussion of politics in the office. This is illegal and impractical.
- Allow your company name to be associated with a political candidate.
Politics can often be a very heated topic in any organization or group of people. Sending an email by the leadership of your organization recognizing this fact and reminding employees that the general ambiance of the office can be disturbed if each individual does not self-monitor their thoughts and words in discussions with others can be very beneficial in maintaining the positive vibe of the office. The good news is that heightened political awareness typically only appears every four years. Once you’ve gotten through the political minefield of 2016 you can breathe easily until 2020!