Although we are more than a year away from the election, the political debates and candidates’ views on highly controversial issues are in the news daily. While you want your employees to be aware and involved as part of their civic responsibility, there is potential for politics to spill over into the workplace and consequently cause unwanted adverse issues. Anticipating potential issues can help you prepare for and address issues that do arise.
Employees are likely to discuss their views with some coworkers since they spend more hours during the week at work than at home. However, in today's diverse workforce we understand that there are many and numerous different viewpoints. Discussion of some of the hot issues in political campaigns such as same-sex marriage, immigration, and other issues, have the potential to turn heated, and create disruptions at work. Remind employees that while they are entitled to their personal views on candidates and issues; their coworkers are as well. If employees choose to discuss political issues at work, they need to do it in a respectful way. Employees need to mindful of their points of view and avoid conversations, political or otherwise, that create disruptions or even may create hostile work environments.
Management would be very wise not to actively campaign for political candidates at work, take sides with a particular employee point of view, or try to influence employees to support a specific candidate(s) or issue(s). Managers and supervisors should refrain taking any specific action against employees because of their political views, unless it violates company policy. An employee’s political views should have no bearing on their work assignments or advancement opportunities.
While you want to be tolerant of employees rights and political viewpoints, as an effective leader you need to also help them understand the importance of maintaining respect in today's diverse workplace as well as the potential consequences for not doing so.
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