With Election Day upon us and tensions at an all-time high, many companies are rightfully wondering about how to best navigate and support employees during elections. Below are some ideas to strike the right tone in your efforts and also to stay above partisan fray. It might be too late to implement many of these practices for this election, but such efforts are worth considering as you plan for future ones.
1. Don’t Hold Meetings on Election Day
Limiting the number of meetings on Election Day helps ensure that employees have time to vote. Additionally, it removes any guilt that people may feel about missing meetings to exercise their civic right.
2. Give Employees Time Off to Vote
Consider giving employees paid time off to ensure that they’re able to vote in person if they wish. Some states actually mandate that companies give employees time off to vote; for example, California grants workers two hours of paid time off to visit the polls.
However, even if you are not in such a state, giving employees this is a good-faith demonstration that you support them in fulfilling their civic duties. If you decide to go this route, make sure to communicate clearly and exactly how the process of taking time off will work and if people will need to submit documentation. The last thing you want to do is make employees feel unsure about whether or how they can take time off.
3. Give Managers Guidance on Election Conversations
Elections elicit strong emotions in both blue and red states and on both sides of the aisle. Managers can benefit greatly from receiving guidance on how to address the disparate feelings both prior to and after an election to keep employees focused, productive, and feeling supported. Training sessions or other forums can help managers navigate this difficult process and answer employee questions.
4. Provide Voting Resources
Another way to promote the civic value of voting while maintaining impartiality is by providing people with educational resources about how to vote. For example, knowing what forms of identification you need to vote in person is critical information particularly for first-time voters. When considering which resources to provide, it is important to examine differences in policies across different counties and states if employees are geographically dispersed.
5. Host Voter Mobilization Activities
Consider hosting last-minute voter mobilization activities, including phone-banking or raising awareness about local ballot measures and races. These types of events empower employees to get involved in the political process and encourage voter turnout among your employees. Hosting or partnering with others on such events again demonstrates that you take civic responsibility seriously.
6. Encourage Employees to Vote
Lastly, perhaps the simplest step you can take — without crossing partisan lines — is by encouraging your employees to use their voice and vote. It demonstrates to employees that leadership cares about their participation in our collective democracy.
Most of these suggestions are neither required nor expected of employers. But by implementing them anyway, you are signaling to your people that their vote matters and that you support them in their efforts to be good citizens. Even more so, you are giving them the resources they need to be informed and engaged voters.