We’re heading into election season. In just about a month, we will know who has won the presidential election as well as the results of multiple local elections. But we’ve also been told that we need to avoid talking about politics when on the job. As an employer, how do you avoid the subject, especially when you feel passionate about it? Here are some tips to keep your workplace professional during this season.
Votes Are Private
When you go to a voting booth on election day, your voting machine is a private space. You’re blocked from seeing other’s choices and they can’t see yours. Voting in the U.S. is very much based on the idea of a secret ballot. At the end of the day, your vote is your business and your employee’s votes are their business. Respect everyone’s right to privacy.
Politics Can Affect Productivity
It’s not just political chatter that can affect office productivity, any added distractions can be the enemy of production. But adding politics to the mix can create bigger divides, cause people who otherwise worked fine together to feel challenged working in the same space. Healthy conversation is fine, but when things get too personal, it’s time to curb the chatting.
Avoid Making Biased Decisions
When you do talk about politics on the job, it’s hard to avoid letting your employee’s personal opinions affect how you feel about them. You may not even be consciously aware of how you’re treating people in the office–based on their personal political decisions. It can become a major problem if someone feels like they’re not being treated fairly simply because of their political beliefs.
Don’t Isolate or Bully Employees
The examples of this are extreme, but they are a lesson. Some companies have provided their employees with instructions on how to vote on election day. That’s just not okay. When you do this, you make employees with different beliefs feel isolated and they’ll feel bullied or gaslighted into the behavior you want. But this isn’t genuine and it’s an abuse of your authority as a company.
The most important thing you can do is to be proactive early rather than reactive closer to election day. Curb the chatter now and politely ask that people refrain from having these conversations on company time. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with low productivity or infighting between employees the closer you get to November. On the other hand, you should encourage your team to vote this year regardless of their position.