Given a particularly divisive political climate in the United States, many companies are grappling with whether and how to attempt to limit conversations about politics in the workplace. Some companies are also interested in channeling 2020 Election Day energy into supporting voter turnout efforts and providing nonpartisan voter education information and resources. This three-part blog series explains what employers and managers can do and what pitfalls they need to avoid.
We began this three-part blog series with Part I: Managing Workplace Political Conversations followed by Part II: Voting Leave.
Part III: Manager Guidelines
In whatever way an employer decides to address workplace political discussion and voting leave, communication around manager expectations is key. Consider guiding managers to:
- Unify their team as much as possible while making space for different perspectives.
- If differing political beliefs create tension, help employees separate the person from their politics by getting to know one another’s hobbies, pets, family, or life goals.
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- Ground discussions in company values or strategic goals instead of political persuasion. For example, “The company believes racial justice is a human rights issue and aligns with our desire to create an inclusive workplace.”
- Limit discussion of their own political beliefs to avoid an appearance of favoritism for team members with similar beliefs.
- Monitor team discussions and climate, helping to redirect conversations as needed.
- Know the applicable state voting leave requirements and be as flexible as possible in allowing time off to vote.
- Follow company policy related to social media engagement with team members and colleagues.
- Avoid getting involved in employees’ off-the-clock political lives unless it has a connection to work or violates a company policy. Concerns about off-duty political activities should be brought to HR for guidance.
- Do not attempt to influence employees’ political decisions or ask whom they voted for.
- Do not take adverse actions, threaten, or retaliate against employees for how they vote or their political beliefs.
Political elections always tend to stir the pot in any conversation be it with family, friends or co-workers. Freedom of speech is part of what makes being an American so awesome.
In Part I: Managing Workplace Political Conversations we discussed what kind of latitude a private employer has to limit political expression in the workplace. Employers stance could range from most permissive to most restrictive, with each stance having both pros and cons.
Part II: Voting Leave discussed how voting policy can vary from state to state, with a majority of states requiring that employees be given time off to vote. We encourage employers to go above and beyond the bare minimum requirements, especially during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, it’s up to the manager to communicate clearly and effectively whatever policy and stance the company decides to take regarding political conversations in the workplace. While not every employee may agree with the stance, they can get behind and respect a company that is transparent, clear and promotes respect in the workplace.
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