It has been a good week, mainly because the election for the President of the United States is over. Finally, after 2 years, it is over. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to sound anti-patriotic. In fact, I believe very strongly in exercising our right to vote. However, this election has been different than elections I have experienced in many years, primarily because of the tone of negativity that was at its core.
Let’s put aside the issues for a moment and think about the tenor of the election. There was name calling, vulgarity and bullying; all of which have left scars that will have effects on us personally and professionally for quite a while.
So, even though the election is finally over, what remains are sometimes bitter and angry feelings which may spill into the workplace. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, thirty-six percent of workers reported they discuss politics at the workplace. One-in-five workers who have discussed politics at work had a fight or heated argument with a colleague over political views.
Now more than ever, employers need to be vigilant and ensure a civil and respectful workplace.
This may not be easy because of what we have experienced during this election and the model of behavior from the candidates. It begins at the top of the organization, and it is all about the culture you have. In fact, this can be an excellent time to further build a culture of safety and respect.
- Be proactive as a leader and release an announcement calling for mutual respect and inclusion. An example of this occurred at Ithaca College where the President released a message to everyone. Although his message was aimed at students protesting, it also has applicability to workplaces.
- Communicate with employees your belief in the need for respect in the office for all ideas whether or not we agree with each other. In other words, create a culture of tolerance and inclusion.
- Set an example as a leader by listening and being respectful.
- Create or reiterate your anti-bullying policy.
- Don’t ban political discussions at work. People are going to talk so make that okay as long as it remains respectful.
Remember, a workplace culture that promotes respect and inclusion allows the opportunity for discussions and disagreements that will usually work themselves out.
Bernie Dyme is the owner of Perspectives, Ltd., an EAP, Work/Life and Management consulting company.