First off, as an HR Manager, I’d like to make it very clear that I am not trying to tell you how to speak about political issues in your everyday life at work, nor am I recommending that you take any political side in the matter. However, since this is an HR guide, it’s important to know what policies are in place with regard to these things in the workplace so that you can make sure that your staff understands and abides by them. Here are some commonly used political expressions in the workplace and why they might or might not be problematic at work.
Avoiding taboo topics
It’s easy for HR departments to avoid taboo topics altogether and leave them untouched, but that approach may backfire in terms of employee satisfaction. Just as ignoring a problem won’t make it go away, employees will likely still wonder why those topics are being avoided. So you might as well open up with HR automation tools and get political! HR automation tools allow companies to collect information on their employees' political views via survey software or third-party apps like Facebook Connect, then ask targeted questions that can help identify problems before they occur. Some surveys might cover things like company benefits, career advancement opportunities, or employee training.
How to talk about government policies?
Talking about current events and politics can be tricky in a professional setting. Keep your political views to yourself during work hours, but don’t feel obligated to share them with coworkers if you do have strong opinions on a government policy or new legislation. However, if your opinion will be beneficial in improving employee satisfaction (for example, by implementing HR automation tools that accommodate diverse skill sets), you should certainly bring it up in conversation. Keep in mind that what could be a well-intentioned way of addressing workplace issues might offend other employees who might disagree with your stance. In these situations, it’s best to present ideas from an HR standpoint rather than from an individual perspective. Just make sure you stay professional no matter how passionate you are about an issue!
How to talk about elections?
As business owners, we have one priority: To make more money. This is where healthcare comes in. A great way to improve employee satisfaction and morale (which directly affects productivity) is by offering access to affordable healthcare options for your employees. Even small businesses can take advantage of tools like health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), which give employees pre-tax dollars that can be used for health expenses like copays and deductibles thereby avoiding common tax pitfalls from these types of benefits. One great example is Zenefits, an HR automation tool that helps employers comply with all their HR regulations across state lines.
How to talk about healthcare?
There are a few common expressions in political debates on healthcare. To improve employee satisfaction, you may want to familiarize yourself with these code words before speaking with your employees or discussing it with anyone outside of HR. Here are three of those code words: premium/subsidy, mandate/tax and buy-in/mandate. These terms might all seem similar, but they carry very different meanings and connotations. You'll need to know which is which if you want employees to see how each phrase affects them personally.
How to talk about gender politics?
If you find yourself in a situation where political language is being used that could be perceived as harassment, discrimination or bullying, please keep in mind that your manager is not asking you to take a side. The best thing you can do is stand up for yourself. Make it clear you will not tolerate any derogatory language in relation to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. This can go a long way in setting an example of how people should treat one another at work and beyond. As uncomfortable as it may be, sometimes all it takes is one person who speaks up against something that’s wrong for everyone else to take notice and realize their behaviour needs adjusting too.
The current political climate is bringing about a sense of uncertainty for many businesses, however it's important to remember that businesses are still thriving and growing. As an employee, if you feel passionately about a political issue that affects your business or industry, use extreme caution when expressing your opinions. For most companies, personal politics don't play into day-to-day operations. They just care that you can do your job well. Keep these guidelines in mind when deciding whether or not to vocalize your opinion: Don't bash people based on their beliefs, you never know who you're going to offend or how it might affect business.