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?
Originally published: 22 October, 2008
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