Office politics at a new level: Managing the political season in the workplace

Election Day is right around the corner and as the big day approaches, chatter in the office can get louder and louder.  This year, in particular, people seem to be more divided than ever on the outcome of the upcoming national election.

How should this be handled in the workplace?  Is it OK to debate politics in the office?  Is it OK to try and persuade a fellow coworker?

While many are eager to share their political views with coworkers, other staff members may feel very private about their opinions and can feel bullied by the ones that are more vocal.  Things can get heated quickly and it’s important for staff to feel they are working in a nonvolatile environment.

Below are some simple guidelines that may be helpful in your work environment.  No matter what side of the political aisle you are on (or maybe you are taking no position), these helpful tips may help make the environment at work comfortable for all:

  • It’s important that managers or staff in leadership positions be careful in sharing their political views. Be sure that your views are not perceived as a representation of the Company as a whole.
  • Do not allow political signs/banners to be displayed in the workplace. Banners, posters, signs can all be a source of contention for fellow employees that don’t share the same views.
  • Managers or staff in leadership roles should refrain from asking employees what their political views are.   You would not want an employee to question whether they had missed out on an advancement opportunity.
  • Nip it, quick. If you hear about chatter among coworkers that could raise tension, don’t let it linger. If a complaint is made to a manager, it should be dealt with as quickly as possible to avoid bigger issues down the road.
  • Respect each other. You may want to address such rules of respect in your employee handbook.
  • As Election Day approaches, prepare: Tension can rise quickly on and shortly after Election Day. Make sure your staff understands that while they may feel strongly about the outcome, coworkers may feel very differently.

BCN is here to help you with your HR needs and if you would like assistance in establishing Code of Conduct rules in your employee handbook, we are here to help.

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Wendy Allen, Marketing Manager