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How to Support Your Team in Navigating the Election Year

by Michael Murphy / March 13, 2024

Everyone knows that there are two subjects that should never be discussed in the workplace: religion and politics. These divisive topics often disrupt the mutual respect that employees hold for one another in an otherwise healthily diverse team. While religion is rarely an issue, politics are more difficult to avoid: especially with a presidential election around the corner.

Social media is flooded with campaign details and casual remarks between coworkers can suddenly spark into political opinions. This is a time when your team needs support, exemplary leadership, and resources available to help them safely navigate the election season without putting professional relationships at risk.


Employees Feel the Political Pressure Rising

Nearly half of all employees this year feel distracted by workplace discussions of the election and related political matters, according to a recent Gartner poll. 31% are frustrated or stressed by political conversations at work and 36% have begun avoiding coworkers as a result of their political opinions.

This is bad news for business leaders, and a problem that must quickly be handled. Of course, the matter requires both delicacy and compassion. Everyone has a right to their political opinions, and, the vast majority of the time, these views do not impact their professional performance or workplace courtesy.

It is only when political views are discussed, and disagreements are revealed that conflicts arise.


Emphasize Unity, Teamwork, and Mutual Respect

Now is a very important time to remind everyone that they are colleagues and share a mutual respect. Professionalism and professional relationships neatly avoid politics precisely because it is needlessly divisive. 

Celebrate victories together and redirect your team to focus on their shared projects instead of political commentary. Emphasize the importance of teamwork and professional decorum. Remind everyone that they have always shared a mutual respect – including appreciation of their differences and the creative problem-solving that can bring. 

Reinforce that personal lives and opinions have always been separate, and your team is made up of professionals who can exclude personal matters from their business relationships.


Lead By Example

Make sure leadership represents the values and behaviors you will need to navigate the election season. Managers should never discuss politics and should gently remind others to stay away from hot-bed topics. 

Stress management is also an important factor that should be displayed and encouraged. Healthy and proactive management of election-season stress can help coworkers avoid talking about issues that might be causing them great personal concern regarding the election and political outcomes.


Consider Forming a DEI Committee

One of the reasons there are so many different political opinions on your team is the existence of team diversity. People from different backgrounds and with different values provide diverse and useful perspectives in the workplace.

A DEI (diversity, equality, inclusion) committee can help you to identify your strengths and smoothly address the matter of personal differences without making any group feel diminished in the process.


Remove Political Triggers

Remove the temptation to discuss politics in the workplace by removing political triggers. Audit the flyers on your billboard. Discourage phone scrolling and social media access. Do not start or encourage conversations that walk the edge of current political issues. Look for other opportunities to avoid triggering political discussions so that employees are not tempted to get involved.


Schedule Unconcious Bias Training for Everyone

One issue that political discussions often unearths is unconscious bias. This is the tendency to make assumptions based on preconcieved notions that we don’t even realize are there. Unconscious biases include things like assuming women can’t lift heavy objects, or that people of a certain political leaning can’t be trusted to make good decisions.

Make sure not to target anyone. Send whole teams at a time through unconscious bias training to bring those assumptions into the foreground and allow employees to address their biases with more intentional and reasoned thought.


Tackle Distraction and Procrastination

When employees are distracted by a current event that worries them – like a major election – they often have trouble focusing at work. They may put off important decisions and procrastinate tasks, not because they dislike their work, but because their minds are unfocused and any decision “feels bad” during this type of political season.

One of the best things you can do for your people is to provide projects, initiatives, and short-term goals to help them focus entirely on work and break down procrastination barriers instead of passively worrying about the election all day.


Change the Conversation

Redirect, redirect, redirect. A key strategy for any workplace during the election season is to get employees involved in discussions and tasks other than the election. If you hear a political discussion warming up, change the subject to a work-safe topic. From matters of domestic security to international alliances, from matters of politician integrity to partisan views, you can stop these discussions in their tracks without directly rebuking anyone in the process. 


Invest in a Learning Management  System

Among the most useful tools in your toolkit during a tough election season is your company’s learning management system (LMS). An LMS provides an engaging and enriching experience where employees can build their skills, address their biases, and focus on professional development instead of on the worries of the political field.

Investing in a Learning Management System can improve employee morale by engaging them in career advancement and expansion of skills, it can improve communication in the team by taking conflict resolution courses or engaging in team building courses together.

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Weathering the Political Storm with Platinum Group

When your employees need to focus on something other than the election, consider investing in a learning management system to bring your training programs to life. An LMS system can help boost employee engagement while upgrading skill levels across the company. LMS use can even promote employee retention: a staggering 94% of employees would stay with a company that supported their career development

Platinum Group is a human capital management resource with solutions to help you streamline operations so you'll have time to manage your business. No matter which division you work with: Payroll/HR or Accounting, our team is built upon a foundation of support, service, camaraderie and collaboration that we share both in-house and with our wonderful clients. For more information about Platinum Group, or to schedule a demo of isolved, please visit our website.

Tags: Conflict Resolution Employee Management DEI Learning Management System election year support

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.