When Politics Impact The Office

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Nov 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

With the end of the year approaching fast, many things are on your mind right now. The last thing you're thinking about is the state level election. This is understandable, but make sure you know how to operate the office if politics do come up in conversation. Companies may find it hard to navigate election day, so we've put some tips together to help you get through it without insult or injury.

You Can Keep Things Civil in Your Office On Election Day

Regardless of how well you are prepared for the day, it's never too late to apply some best practices. On election day, here are three things you can do to foster the right spirit in the office: 

1. Support the right to vote

Do what you can in the office to encourage voting. That could be anything from allowing your employees to leave early, to allowing for an extended lunch to go out to the polls. Help your employees exercise their right to vote and they'll appreciate it. Just don't go as far as suggesting who to vote for in the election.

2. Ask Employees, in writing, to respect each other's political viewpoints

Form a pseudo-contract to create harmony in the office. With the election, there may be some sharing of viewpoints, which sometimes can be engaging and fun, but the employees need to be respectful if that's to happen. Putting this in writing will make it more official, and it will be taken more seriously. 

3. Try to keep political chatter to a minimum

Use your management or leadership team to moderate conversations in the office. If a discussion is getting out of hand and far too political, have them step in and diffuse the situation. You can't possibly be everywhere at all times, so using your team is the next best thing. 

Do You Feel Ready to Guide Your Staff Through An Upcoming Election Cycle?  

So far, we've talked about what you can do tomorrow, but what can you do for future elections? Here are some tips for the next election: 

  • Develop a set of written standards and policies regarding civics in your office. A recent study from the Society of Human Resource Management reported that only 24 percent of organizations have written policies regarding political discourse and activities while 72 percent of HR managers surveyed said they discourage political discussion in the office.  
  • Prohibit discussion and activities that are likely to be perceived as inflammatory, such as direct campaigning during work hours or asking for campaign donations. It makes sense to take them off the table.
  • Develop healthy diversions to allow for positive outcomes for everyone. If you detect some underlying political stress among staff members during election season, try to "change the subject" by planning an upbeat team building exercise or an office potluck.  

At ICS, we understand how important it is to have a peaceful office free of political discourse. We hope these tips will lead you to a successful election day for you and your staff. Remember, it's never too late to moderate your office environment.