The topic of politics in the workplace refers to one or two different subjects. The first is whether or not it is appropriate to discuss political beliefs (ie. the outside government) during work hours. The second refers to the political workings within your organisation.
Today, however, I want to focus on the first topic – the discussion of personal political viewpoints within the workplace. While this may seem like a relatively innocent topic of conversation amongst adults, especially given the time of year, politics is a sensitive subject that has the ability to make many people very uncomfortable.
It’s natural for people to watch debates, read political interviews, form opinions, and then want to have a discussion. But where do we draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate? How do you ensure that none of your employees become uncomfortable within the workplace during what may possibly be one of the most historic election years in history?
Some offices limit discussion of politics to lunch breaks and request that employees not place banners or signs relating to their political affiliations on their desks. Others simply let the discussions slide as regular workday gossip and only get involved if a debate becomes heated. I don’t recommend, ever, that you allow an employee to attempt any sort of political recruitment in the office, regardless of his affiliation.
Please sound off – how do you handle politics within your workplace. Do you think discussing politics displays poor ethics in the workplace? Is it something you encourage, discourage, or ignore?
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.