Election Day 2016 – Politics in the Workplace

Election Day 2016 – Politics in the Workplace

As the upcoming November presidential election draws near, employers may be faced with employee relations issues stemming from political discussions in the workplace. A May 2016 survey from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), found that slightly more than a quarter of respondents reported tension, hostility, or arguments among co-workers because of political affiliation.

So, as an employer, what can you do to maintain a healthy, productive workplace where the sharing of ideas and opinions is valued and supported?

  • Set the tone at the top. Create and maintain a respectful workplace. Stress collaboration and teamwork in the workplace despite potential differences in viewpoints.
  • Don’t prohibit all political discussions. Any political discussions related to terms and conditions of employment may be considered protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Monitor the workplace to ensure that bullying or harassment is not occurring. Any threats or comments relating to any protected classes (race, religion, age, disability, sex, etc.) must not be tolerated or ignored.  To do so is considered to have condoned this behavior.

Note:  If you are a private employer, your employees do not have a right to free speech in your workplace.

By Maria Peterson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP