Relief for Your Political Tension Headache in the Workplace

Beth Dean 10.07.15
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Although the next presidential election isn’t until November 2016, the race is already filled with hotly debated dynamic characters, which can lead to strife among those with differing political views in the workplace.

As an employer of choice, chances are, you hired a diverse range of employees with differing viewpoints and approaches to solutions. While this is great for your workforce, those differing personalities can lead to some strong arguments when it comes to personal beliefs.

It’s not too early to address the political differences and arguments that can arise between employees. These tips can bring relief for your political tension headache in the workplace.

See it for yourself.
Don’t just believe the rumors. Watch the interaction between the employees and the effect it has on the department before jumping to conclusions. Sometimes, a discussion is able to remain just that; a discussion. Ideally, employees will behave as the grown adults they are and resolve their differences without needing supervisor intervention.

Don’t take sides.
Your job is not to decide who is right and who is wrong; your job as the manager is to ensure that the conflict does not interfere with work. This can be difficult since it is hard to leave one’s personal beliefs at the door, so we’ll repeat it: it is not the manager’s job to take sides in a political debate. The important thing is to make sure employees remain civil and that no harassing, slanderous, or discriminatory language is used.

Set goals together.
In the case of a seemingly irrevocable employee disagreement, ask each side for ideas on repairing the situation and make them each accountable for reaching those goals. In other words; make them responsible for coming up with a solution. Set a specific deadline and have both employees individually report to you at regular intervals with progress.

Remain professional.
Remind the employees that they must maintain a professional workplace; if their disagreement continues to affect work, they will receive written warnings under the progressive discipline process that can lead to termination. Differences of opinion are okay. Respectful discourse and discussion is okay. Insults, discrimination, and ridicule in the workplace are absolutely not okay.

Document, document, document.
As with every disciplinary situation, keep clear, unbiased written records. Differences of political opinion alone are not grounds for termination, but if one or more employees are creating a hostile work environment, the company will want to keep thorough written records to ensure that any terminations include proper documentation and cause.

Again, employees are adults and are entitled to their opinions. As with any employee management issue, please contact Nextep’s HR team for additional human resource guidance.

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