11 Actions Leaders Can Take
Think the old adage, “Don’t talk about politics in the workplace” is keeping politics from impacting your team? Think again. American Psychological Association released their Stress in America report earlier this month and here’s what they found:
68% – over two-thirds of adults- say that the current political climate or U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress. Think about that 68 out of 100 people in your organization are significantly stressed right now because of politics.
This is regardless of political affiliation. Majorities across all the parties say that the election is a significant source of stress – 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independents. Everyone is feeling it.
And it’s gotten worse since 2016. Unsurprisingly, the survey found that for some groups, stress about the election is significantly higher compared with 2016.
The proportion of Black adults reporting the election as a source of stress jumped from 46% in 2016 to 71% this year.
Adults with a chronic condition are consistently more likely than those who do not have a chronic condition to report the election as a source of stress in their life. And 39% report the election is a very significant source of stress for them.
It’s Time to Prepare for Inclusion
One thing is for sure – sticking your head in the sand and hoping that politics isn’t impacting your team isn’t going to work. You’ve got to be proactive and grab the elephant & the donkey by the tails and pull them back together. To help you be proactive about protecting your employees and workplace culture we’ve pulled together the top 11 things you can do to lead through the election, the potential for uncertainty after November 3rd, and the weeks and months post-election in a positive, inclusive way.
- Anchor Everything to Your Stated Core Values
- For example, core values such as ‘treating people with dignity and respect’, ‘teamwork’, ‘showing you care’, ‘working together’ provide a framework and expectations about behavior.
- Values are not changeable based on events. They are where you can meet on common ground despite your differences.
- The messaging is, “Despite what may be happening out there, this is what we believe, and how we behave internally.”
- Ask employees and coworkers to consider both their intent and their impact on others as it relates to anything politically related (clothing, conversations etc.)
- If the intent and impact are in alignment with your core values, and expected behaviors surrounding those core values, proceed. If they are not, stop.
PRIOR TO THE ELECTION
- Leverage Existing Policies and Practices
- Make sure you are compliant with applicable laws.
- Be proactive. Communicate your policy or practice for taking time to vote. Be prepared to address employee requests for time off on Election Day.
- Consider paid time off.
- Consider making Election Day a company holiday
- Encourage volunteerism.
- Encourage employees to serve as poll workers and engage in the democratic process in some way
IMMEDIATELY BEFORE & AFTER THE ELECTION
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
- Don’t let it be the elephant in the room.
- Everyone is thinking about it, processing it, and talking about it in small groups. It’s better to be open about that reality.
- Acknowledge that it’s hard.
- There are going to be strong feelings and emotions.
- See #1 – anchor everything to your core values!
- Nix Most Meetings
- Be thoughtful about what meetings are scheduled on the day before, the day of and the day after the election.
- It is best not to hold any significant meetings. You are very likely not going to have folks in a focused state of mind.
- Go Easy on Priorities & Deliverables
- Be thoughtful about what expectations and deadlines you have in the week prior and immediately after the election.
- There are high levels of distraction and anxiety during these weeks and your team may not be in a place to deliver their highest quality work.
FOR SEVERAL MONTHS POST-ELECTION
- Provide Resources to Support Mental Health
- Support time off or offer a modified sick leave policy in order to offer their employees who may be struggling.
- Know and promote your current mental health and well-being resources
- Make sure you’re up to date on the resources that you can offer. Many organizations have added tools and benefits since the beginning of the year. Consult with HR or your Wellness/Health committee to see what’s available.
- Offer Specific Tools & Training for Inclusion
Ask your Learning & Development team what courses are available on topics such as resilience, managing burnout, communication, empathy.
Offer tools such as the Everyday Inclusion app (which includes resources on creating psychological safety, having difficult conversations, daily inclusive behaviors and empathy) that give employees quick access to the knowledge and tools to be inclusive. Partner with your Diversity & Inclusion team to provide resources that promote inclusion and belonging.
- Be Present as a Leader and Team Member
- Check in with your folks. Really.
- Recent data has shown that 70% of people have not had a 1-1 with the person they report to this year.
- Crank up individual coaching & support.
- What’s your capacity right now? Do you need anything? Do you want to discuss your deliverables are over these next couple of weeks?
- This is not a 1-time event. Keep it up.
- Have a team check-in.
- On a scale of 1-6, how are we doing in terms of inclusion?
- How can we do better, improve?
- Foster Community
- Do good… together.
- Do something as a team or company for your community or an organization that needs support. Think virtual food drive, social distance park cleanup, letter writing to seniors.
- Engage your ERG leaders and communities. Get engaged with your ERG communities.
- Communities are impacted in different ways. ERG’s are an ideal place for conversation, community building and support.
- Be an ally. Show up, listen, support.
- Have some fun.
- Laughter can heal. Do some fun virtual things – cooking classes, lunch hour trivia, karaoke, yoga – mix it up.
- Set a Clear Expectation – Be a Good Human
- Be Kind.
- Model the way as a leader.
- Notice and acknowledge people doing the same.
- Communicate and model treating people with dignity and respect.
- No exceptions.
- Focus on Shared Humanity
- See and acknowledge our differences.
- Seek and acknowledge what we have in common.
These are challenging times for everyone. We hope you find the ideas a helpful guide to leading through the weeks and months to come. Keep doing the next right thing as a leader – you’ve got this!