Tuesday, November 19, 2019

It’s not realistic to expect employees not to discuss politics at work, but it is to require them to do so professionally

According to a recent survey conducted by SHRM [pdf], American workers cannot hide from politics at work.
  • 42% of U.S. employees say they have personally experienced political disagreements at work
  • 44% say they have witnessed political disagreements at work
  • 34% believe that their workplace is not inclusive of differing political perspectives
  • 12% report they have personally experienced political affiliation bias or discrimination based on their political views
  • 56% state that political discussions at work have become more common over the past four years

Some will tell you that employees should avoid political discussions at work at all costs. I am not one of those people. It’s simply not realistic to eliminate all political discourse from the workplace. Thanks to CNN, the Internet, and round-the-clock news cycles, politics has invaded every crevice of our existence (and it’s only going to get worse between now and 11/3/20). How can we expect employees simply to ignore conversing about these issues for the eight-plus hours a day they are at work?

Instead of banning these discussions, remind employees of your expectations regarding all workplace conversations—that they be civil, professional, and respectful. And, if a co-worker violates these precepts you have the right to disengage and to go to a supervisor, management, or HR to address the problem.

Political discussions need not be nasty, uncivil, or contemptuous, as long as we respect the rights of others to think differently, and hold them accountable when they fall short of this standard.

* Image by ArtTower from Pixabay