The result of the 2016 presidential election has left the country asking “what’s next?” Depending on the tone of that question in the workplace, you could have a divided staff on your hands. Emotions are running high. Though political discussion had happened prior to the election, the election’s surprise outcome has brought opinions before unknown out of the dark and into the light, and not everyone is on the same side.
As owner and manager of the business, it is your job to make sure the office environment remains respectful in tone and kind in nature. But to be on the safe side of things, it wouldn’t hurt to get workers compensation insurance.
Mitigating Politics in the Office
There were many (really too many to count) heated exchanges during the presidential campaign. Unabashed name calling, vitriolic attacks and fake news all swirled together to make for one giant suck tornado. The entire office was in agreement that the election couldn’t come soon enough, but half of the staff wishes they could turn back the clock. Office mates who were once so chatty speak hardly a word to each other at all now. The break room is empty come lunch time, employees opting to eat alone at their desks. This negative atmosphere is not what you had in mind when you started this business, and you’re not going to let it continue.
The first thing that will need to be understood is that your staff is made up of people with different belief systems, backgrounds and experiences. The one thread that unites them (apart from their humanity of course) is working with you for your small business. Your staff, no matter which candidate they supported, will look to you to mitigate workplace communication struggles.
Director of marriage and family therapy at the University of Minnesota, William Doherty suggests that managers establish a sort of code regarding communicating political ideologies. Your staff, whether their candidate won or not, needs to understand that people are allowed to have different opinions. A political discussion can be had, but only if all parties agree to conduct themselves respectfully. Doherty has three tips in handling politics in the workplace:
Allow your employees to vent in a safe space. You can designate the conference room as a safe space for 20-minute increments where staff can discuss how they are feeling with like-minded individuals.
Don’t allow an argument to escalate. In every group there is someone who likes to push buttons. If there is an employee playing devil’s advocate or is particularly pro or anti the president elect, a disagreement can quickly turn into an all-out brawl. While workers compensation insurance would cover the business losses and costs of the fight, it won’t repair employee relationships. Employees cannot brag if their candidate won nor can they ring the death bell if their candidate lost.
The election is over. Move on. This is easier said than done. With the president-elect’s cabinet picks proving just as controversial as his election to the presidency, news headlines could open old wounds. You can, if worse comes to worse make the office a no-politics-talk zone, unless everyone can agree to disagree and not hold a grudge.
Your employees should feel safe at work. When you have their back they’ll work harder and work with each other. To support your staff and your business, get a workers compensation policy when you compare quotes with CoverHound.