Politics in the Workplace
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP - Nationally Certified Professional Mediator - www.lodge-co.com - PH 305.824.2963
We have gone through a nasty political season, really for the last four years. We just went through an election that was probably the most corrupt political scene we have seen from all sides of the political parties. And maybe some politics that crept into the office and created an even more stressful workplace environment. The question is how did and are companies managing politics from not disturbing the workplace?
In March of 2020 I received an email requesting mediation in a company located in Oakland California for employee workplace conflict, all geared to politics. The story - the manager of the company had one employee that was politically right leaning and expressed his views on politics. The other two employees, who were left leaning, wanted the other employee fired. They did not agree with his political views and want him gone. There were a lot of hostile threats against the one employee, so bad that the manager requested mediation to resolve he political hate in the office. Is this harassment?
Now in the office and in places like business social media like Linkedin some people want to make their political point. I think of Linkedin as a place to conduct business and build relationships. Just like an office. But people post political pictures and remarks that offend other people and then the words begin to fly in the thread of the post. I would say that if you are using Linkedin or other apps for work, at your work, you should probably adhere to your company policies and procedures on politics in the office. If you have one.
A recent trend survey on politics in the workplace was put out in July 2020 by ComplyRight. Let us point out that companies have a responsibility of protecting its employees against discrimination/harassment against any protected class covered by federal, state and local laws, it should not be tolerated. So, we as business owner have a responsibility in our companies stop employees from harassing or discriminating on the basis of political views. So, what policies do companies have in place? Let's look at the study in brief.
SURVEY - DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE WIRTTEN POLICIES ON TIME OFF FOR VOTING OR POLITCAL DISCUSSION AT WORK
49.2% surveyed said they had no written policies on politics or voting.
36.1% surveyed said they have policies for time off for voting
6.7% surveyed said they were not sure if they had a written policy on politics
6.1% surveyed said that yes, they have policies on political discussion at work and time off for voting
1.9% surveyed said yes they have policies for political discussions at work
Then Comply right asked the question -What are your current company policies on political discussions at work?
60% surveyed said we have a written anti-harassment policy that states any discrimination/harassment against any protected class covered by federal, state and local law will not be tolerated.
40% surveyed said, we prohibit political discussions during working hours
40% surveyed said, we have a formal complaint procedure for employees to follow when they feel harassed or discriminated against
20% surveyed said, we have clear guidelines for discussing politics at work
Policies and procedures are so very important to businesses, big or small. Harassment is a common theme when it comes to employee work related issues. We now have come to the age of political harassment which creates even more serious situations in companies. People may think they can say and do whatever they like on social media and they will shout it is freedom of speech. Many names and accusations are flung in the evilest way towards people on social media. However, the workplace is a totally different ballgame where harassment is taken very seriously.
Does your company have a policy on politics in the workplace? Perhaps, it is time to develop one because politics will get worse and more emotionally charged between people in the United States. Be proactive before politics becomes a problem of harassment.
If you have workplace conflict, provide mediation to resolve the issue. Workplace conflict can affect the productivity of your employees, it spreads. Contact my office for mediation at: 305.824.2963
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.