Adding to the many challenges we’ve experienced so far this year are the prolonged and now disputed election results. The country is clearly divided, and the uncertainty is only increasing our already elevated stress levels.
Sadly, this trickles down to the workplace. Because we are so divided and our environment is so politically charged, conflict and emotions are bound to emerge in the workplace. So, as a leader, how do you help your employees work through it?
I recently attended a roundtable led by my colleague, Susan Nelson, Founder, The Pragmatic Life. One of the topics we discussed was the anxiety coming to the workplace regarding the election results. In addition to leading an enlightening discussion, Susan and her guest, Maureen Berkner Boyt, Founder, Moxie Exchange, shared some tips on how leaders and organizations can help employees through the post-election transition period. Here are some highlights from the roundtable discussion:
Anchor everything to your core values and standards of conduct
Most organizations include “respect” as one of their core values. Remind your employees that demonstrating that value means you respect other people’s opinions even if they differ from your own. It also means that you express your opinions in a respectful manner.
Provide resources to help them work through their emotions.
Offer more productive ways to have discussions, again, tying it back to core values. You will probably not prevent people from talking about politics, but give them tools to dial down their emotions during these conversations. Many companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Be sure employees know how to take advantage of this benefit.
Communicate and be present.
Acknowledge that the current situation is unusual and the uncertainty is stressful. Check in on individuals to see how they are doing. Listen, and model the respectful behavior you expect from them.
Remind employees about the importance of maintaining relationships.
We talk a lot about diversity, well, that includes diversity of opinions. Encourage employees to put their relationships with colleagues first, and respect the fact that not everyone is going to agree about everything.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need help working through this with your employees.