Whatever your feelings about the election outcome, the presidential race is over and it’s time to get back to business. And whether you realize it or not, because your workforce is comprised of humans, there are feelings and emotions — maybe not on the surface, but underlying — that may come into play now and in the weeks leading up to January 20, when the new president is sworn in. The time now is for unity and understanding, not for fanning the political flames and creating deeper divides.
Your employees may be experiencing feelings of jubilation, fear, excitement, sadness, or anger. The quietest employees may be afraid to speak up; the loudest may be intimidating to those around them. Employers need to be particularly sensitive to the climate in their workplaces and ensure that no one is feeling persecuted, frightened, or bullied.
Here are some tips for making sure all your employees feel safe and supported in this time of political transition:
- Don’t discount feelings. Telling someone to “get over it” because their candidate lost is not helpful; nor is gloating because your candidate won. Honest dialogue can help a person who is feeling concern move past the hurt and toward healing. Consider providing safe spaces so that employees can voice their worries without fear of repercussion.
- Open the lines of communication. Is there someone in your human resources department who can field concerns or complaints specifically related to the political climate? If so, provide employees with that person’s name and contact details. In addition, remind employees of procedures to report complaints of intimidation or harassment.
- Discourage conversations in the workplace that escalate to insults or shouting. Encourage open communication between employees of differing opinion that includes both talking and listening, as well as finding some points of agreement or common ground.
- Review your policies with an eye towards the exclusionary. Be sure to review policies regarding religious or culture-related dress and styles, and language in the workplace. Now is the time to stress inclusion and understanding of each other, not separation.
- Reinforce your stance against discrimination. No employee should feel threatened or unsafe in your workplace. Reinforce to all employees that any opinions or actions that serve to threaten or intimidate anyone in the workplace will not be tolerated. Remind employees to speak up if they witness intimidating behavior, and provide tools for coming to the assistance of an employee who may be experiencing harassment or intimidation.
Aside from these ideas, consider providing a healing space that opens the door to honest and open discussion for both sides. When people really listen to each other, bridges and barriers can be traversed.