Talking Politics in the Workplace

The 2020 election is heating up, and so can the political discussion in the workplace.  These conversations can quickly turn personal, creating an unfriendly and unnecessary confrontation.

So, how does a company approach controversial conversations among employees?  To allow or ban the topic can be a double-edged sword.  Every company strives to create a safe environment for employees that demonstrates respect and values their opinions.  A company’s culture may shift to one where employees feel their opinion is not encouraged or valued if the topic is banned.  Allowing the topic could lead to harassment and disrespect among co-workers.

Ultimately, it is up to each company to determine what is best for them.  Whether you choose to ban the topic or not, it can be difficult to control the conversation among employees.  Below are tips to help prevent turning the workplace into a bickering scene from the first 2020 presidential debate.

  • After the election, politics and current events will still be hot topics. Provide your employees with training on how to address controversial subjects both in and out of work.  Provide them with key phrases like “I understand where you are coming from, but I have to disagree because…” versus stating, “you’re wrong.”  Include tools for handling a win or loss gracefully and ways to end the conversation on good terms.  It is important to remind employees to respect co-workers with different beliefs.
  • Update the dress code policy to ban shirts, hats, buttons, and other apparel that supports or criticizes a candidate or features a political slogan.
  • Restrict employees from discussing politics and other current events during work hours. These conversations can interrupt employee focus and hinder productivity.  Let employees know the conversations are welcome during their breaks and lunch.
  • Employees have the right to participate in any political activities outside of work. However, that right does not apply in the workplace.  Forbid employees from campaigning or distributing political literature in the workplace.
  • Lead by example. All company management and supervisors should remain non-partisan while in the workplace.  If a leader favors a candidate or policy over another, it could intimidate employees who disagree.  Employees could question if their opinions are valued or even fear for their job.
  • Shift the conversation away from politics when possible, whether it is happening on the manufacturing floor or in the office.
  • As each local, state, and federal election approaches, remind employees about the company’s policies of discussing politics in the workplace.

As an employee, if you choose to engage in talking politics at work, be respectful to your co-workers.  Here are some tips.

  • Be open-minded.
  • Share your thoughts, but do not try to persuade others to think the way you do.
  • Know the risks of engaging in a conversation with someone who disagrees with your views. It could cause tension in the workplace and hurt relationships with friends.
  • Discuss topics calmly. If the conversation is heating up, excuse yourself.  If they continue to engage, let them know you no longer want to discuss the topic at this time.

At Twin City Staffing, we don’t talk politics.  Instead, we focus on candidates’ skills and company cultures so we can accurately match a candidate with the right company.  We specialize in hiring quality candidates in the skilled trades, general labor, transportation, and administrative industries.  To learn more about our services and available opportunities, call us at 763-220-7052.