Going into an election year can be difficult for leaders and teams with varying opinions and strong personal belief-systems. But, there are ways to navigate the voting season successfully with your team. Many leaders do not know how to talk politics at work in a respectful and safe way, but it can be done. Here are some tips for how to navigate your workspace this voting season and beyond.
Have A Plan
In research by Illinois Technology Association, their team found that out of their members, 31% were unsure whether or not they should talk about the upcoming election, and 79% said they had no policy at all for talking about politics at work. With much of our lives spent with the people we work with, it is unrealistic to think that there will be absolutely no political talk in the workplace, especially during such tumultuous election cycles. The thing you need to have prepared as a leader is a plan with your HR department or your team to handle such discussions. How can you support healthy and respectful conversations of politics in the workplace and also show respect for those who may be uncomfortable with the conversations all together? It is a big task, but your team can come prepared for each election season.
Give Your Team Time To Vote
Election day is challenging for much of the nation. Not only are emotions boiling over from a heavy campaign, but some people are also afraid that if they take time off to vote, they will lose money on their paycheck. That’s why creating some peace-of-mind for your employees by giving them time to vote is an incredible perk. In 2016, only 60% of our eligible voters even cast ballots. It makes sense, though. Many people struggle to make ends meet, using their entire paychecks to put their kids through school and keep their lights on—this makes it incredibly hard to find a few minutes in the day to drop off a ballot or wait in a long line. Companies like Bark and Chosen Foods have joined the Time To Vote Movement, a non-partisan campaign that ensures employees a schedule that will allow them to cast their ballot and have a say in the upcoming election. Giving yourself and your employees the chance to have their voices heard is one way to make lasting change in our Nation.
Allow For Political Diversity
When the word diversity comes up, we often think of ethnic, gender, or cultural differences, which are all incredibly important. However, we tend to forget to be mindful of diversity of thoughts and beliefs. The truth is, humans are drawn to other people who think like them. In business, this can be detrimental because it means that we tend to interact only with people who think like us, have similar experiences or backgrounds, and we miss out on new perspectives that a diverse group of people bring to the table. We can’t support or empathize with others, let alone lead effectively, if we don’t understand and appreciate their unique points of view. So, as you hire, consider all forms that diversity might support your organization’s success. Work hard to foster a business culture that encourages respectful dialogue, understanding over judgment, and dignity for all. Most of all, focus on the shared values you hold as a team and use those values to ground, stabilize, and align your team on what’s most important. This is how we will evolve as a society and create healthy change.
Be Prepared For Any Outcome
The day after the election, when votes are still being counted and there is some tension in the air, it is essential to be prepared. We know at this point that tensions will be high. This election feels very personal. No matter your political affiliation, your employee’s mental health and well-being should be a top priority. The leadership and HR preparedness we spoke about above will need to be in overdrive post-election. Keeping your workplace respectful, fun, and maintaining the company culture you’ve worked so hard to achieve can be done with careful planning and candid, safe discussions with your team.
“My dear friends: Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.”
— Former Rep. John Lewis (1940-2020)
A trustworthy, respectful, and healthy workplace marked by diverse views, even political ones, is a sure recipe to make real, impactful change in our world. If you need help navigating this election season, please reach out.