How Are You Preparing Your Workforce for the… | Gagen MacDonald

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How Are You Preparing Your Workforce for the Election Season?

Jun 25, 2024
Jenn blog Election Prep opt 2

Many of the conversations I’ve been part of lately center on hearts and minds, focusing on new and innovative ways to connect with and engage employees. The upcoming election season creates both an opportunity and an imperative for us to prepare for disruption and get ahead of the conversation.  

One study shows that less than one-third of Fortune 1000 communications leaders consider themselves effective at managing employee pressures around societal issues. This same data set shows that companies fear societal issues in candidate campaigns will drive risk, and that employees are the main drivers of this pressure.  

There is a reason to get ahead of the emotions that are likely to rise when thinking about these data points — 58% of U.S. workers believe society is generally uncivil, and 40% of uncivil acts occur in the workplace itself. In fact, 66% of workers agreed that incivility reduces productivity, and 59% say it causes a decline in employee morale.

As communication leaders, we have a role to play.

Let’s plan our approach:  

Unite Employees Around Purpose and Values: Start with what unites employees and the company — purpose and values. What do we believe as a company? What do we stand for? How do we live our values? Remind employees of these principles and tie them back to how we operate — especially in the context of the upcoming elections. This is the first step.   

Train Leaders: Research tells us that businesses are more trusted than governments. Your workforce will turn to its leaders for information and guidance. Make sure your leaders are ready to listen, respond and redirect when needed. Consider creating talk-track documents. Invest in psychological safety training. In this environment of incivility, it is our job to provide safety, insist on respect and set boundaries with our teams about what is appropriate in the workplace.   

Create a SAFE Space for Dialogue: Find ways to consistently reinforce purpose and values and engage employees in discussions about the issues that matter to the company. While companies should remain neutral in terms of political leanings, sharing the decision matrix of where and how the company has decided to take a stand, e.g., voter rights, will provide the clarity employees seek and help them understand why the company won’t engage on certain issues — even though they may be important ones. Tap into Employee Resource Groups to aid in these discussions. And above all else, reinforce respect. People will have opinions that differ from our own, and as leaders, we must create a safe space for civil discourse. Remember, too, that one of the things that connects us all is our right to vote in elections. Let’s make this process as easy as possible for our teams — provide a full or half-day off, or allow for a late start or early end to the day.  

66%

of workers agreed that incivility reduces productivity.

59%

say it causes a decline in employee morale.

Conduct Scenario Planning: Be prepared. Regardless of the outcome, plan for disruption — possibly even between the election and the inauguration. Don’t be caught flat-footed. Ensure leaders understand their role and what's expected of them — not only in leading their teams through challenging times, but also when it comes to their behavior in representing the company on social media, for example, and the resources available to help them keep their teams focused and motivated. We must act with empathy and recognize that these elections will have real impacts of different kinds for different groups of employees. We shouldn’t underestimate that people may need time to process and even recover from the outcome.  

Also, elections are happening around the world. Tailor these suggestions to your context. Remember — connect back to your purpose and values; help leaders with training and resources; create a safe space for dialogue; scenario plan; and remind people to get out and vote. Ultimately, taking proactive measures will minimize distractions as best as possible and help companies stay focused on their business objectives.   

We have the expertise in leadership alignment, culture and engagement, along with collective political acumen, to help clients achieve their goals with fresh and balanced perspectives, reliable guidance and strategic counsel throughout the election season and its aftermath.  

Let’s connect!  

/ Apr 30, 2024

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