September 27, 2016

How to Avoid Political Infighting in Your Business

By Paul Bieber

By political infighting, I mean, fighting over Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I have seen some interesting verbal fights, and even good employees leaving good jobs over election preparations. What can you do? Here are some absolute rules you should follow.

  • Never overtly promote one candidate over another during work time. No exceptions to this by any person working at the company, including you.
  • Never bring a candidate to speak to your employees without offering the same program for the opposing candidate.
  • Never announce, proclaim, do envelope-stuffers, print messages on paychecks or in any way endorse a candidate through company paperwork or communications.
  • Don’t put bumper stickers on company vehicles. If you want to put one on your personal car, that is OK.
  • Don’t wear a button promoting a candidate during work hours.
  • Don’t discuss politics in any one-on-one meetings with an employee, most especially during any meeting discussing financial reviews.

Let your employees know these are the rules for your company, that you will not push one candidate over another while you are at work. But, what about your employees? What can they do? You can’t tell them not to wear a button while at work in your shop, but you can limit its size, not more than two inches is the rule. And if safety is an issue, then no buttons at all. If an employee goes out to see customers or work at their homes or businesses, no buttons should ever be allowed. Advise your employees not to enter any political conversation with customers.

Why? Because this will cost you about half of your customers, that’s why. Near my home, a builder has a very large campaign sign for one of the prez candidates. I support the other. I would never give this person any business, if I had some to give. Your customers will think the same of your company. 

All this no, no, no. What can you do?

Support every candidate you want on your own time, for you and your employees. In fact, you should encourage your employees and co-workers to learn more about the candidates. Put up a notice when a candidates forum will be in your area, provided it is open to candidates from all the parties.

Make sure your employees know where they vote, the time when the polls open and close and give an extra half-hour at lunch to vote. Don’t plan on working late overtime that day if the polls close early. Allow some of your company to come in a half-hour late, if this doesn’t impact productivity. Strongly encourage them to vote. This is how our democracy works, and it does work well indeed.

I hoped you watched last night’s debate.  I learned more about my candidate of choice. There are two more debates coming, plus the VP debate. Make a big bowl of popcorn, open a beverage of choice, and learn more about our country.