Foster conversation that is respectful and civil
Politics often doesn’t make for good workplace conversation, yet given how many waking hours your employees spend with their colleagues, the topic is bound to come up. While a blanket ban on all political discussion in the workplace may sound tempting, be wary of this hard to enforce and burdensome policy which could also border on illegal as employees have the right to discuss matters affecting their working conditions. In today’s heated political environment respectfully responding to differences of opinion can prove tricky. To ensure that political conversations stay civil and courteous, you’ll need to give guidance to your employees and create an environment that fosters respect.
Redirect the conversation
One of the best ways for you to deal with potentially heated political discussion in the workplace is to redirect the conversation to less tense topics. Just as workers should do their best to not let personal matters affect their work life, it’s often best to encourage avoidance of non-work-related topics.
Healthy dialogue about political matters that are poised to potentially impact your workplace are important. When your employees start to talk politics at the shop, try to steer the conversation to matters that could directly affect their daily work lives, and urge them to check more heated matters at the door.
Create a culture of respect
When the topic of conversation turns to politics, it’s important that your employees understand the expectation of respecting and valuing the opinions of fellow co-workers. Leadership can promote this culture of respect by modeling this behavior in their communication and interaction with your employees.
The workplace should be a place of mutual respect where employees are valued by their employer and peers. Ensure that your employees know that your company appreciates and supports their active citizenship, while reminding them that cooperation is the key to a successful workplace and that political discussions should not detract them from their job duties. Make sure that your employees understand the need for handling any disagreements in a civil manner.
Let your employees know that it’s ok to walk away or stop a conversation if things become too heated. A few phrases to give your employees for their toolbox might include: “I should get back to my desk, I have a lot of work to do”; “I have a meeting I need to prepare for”; or simply “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree”.
Equipping your managers and employees with the tools they need to treat one another with respect in the workplace whenever discussions of politics pop up in the workplace. Remind your workers that everyone has the right to their own opinions (as long as they don’t create discriminatory or hostile work environments) and that arguing rarely changes minds, but often breeds resentments.
Inclusion is key
Help your employees value and understand the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment. People from diverse backgrounds bring unique viewpoints to every discussion. While political dialogue should be encouraged, you should also ensure that your employees understand that the office is not an environment for debates.
Have an open and honest conversation with your employees to make sure that everyone understands a basic ground rule: if they aren’t open to hearing different points of view, they should refrain from starting or joining political conversations in the workplace. Diversity brings new perspectives to political conversations, and employees should be able to appreciate the commonalities of positive intentions and the work that individuals from diverse backgrounds can accomplish together.
Reasonable people can agree to disagree on most topics. Your workplace should foster inclusiveness that can lend new perspectives in conversation, including politics and workplace-related matters.
Let Sheakley help you foster respectful dialogue
As the owner of your company, it’s your job to ensure that any workplace political discussion doesn’t create a harassing or discriminatory workplace. Depending on how they’re addressed, lively political conversations can benefit your employees or create divisions within your company. By working with Sheakley’s team of Human Resources professionals, you can develop policies that ensure a respectful and diverse work environment that allows for open and engaging dialogue of all types between employees.
Get your free consultation with a Sheakley HR representative today and find out how we can help you develop policies and procedures to help you attract an increasingly socially aware workforce and that promote gender diversity. Stay up-to-date on all things Sheakley by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Join in the discussion by commenting below.