#Election2016: Why Politics Should Matter

#ImWithHer and #LoveTrumpsHate and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain…if you don’t know what these hash tags mean, or who they belong to, you’ve probably been hiding your head in the sand. As a millennial, feminist, mom, and human resources professional, elections are really tricky topics for me to write about. I have conservative parents, Republican relatives who despise Hillary Clinton, and good friends who would seriously consider a permanent move out of the country if Donald Trump is sworn in as the new leader of the free world.

My personal views aside, I think presidential elections should be something we all care about. My oldest child is in fourth grade this year, and is acutely aware of the election, the candidates, and the commentary constantly running through her ears at school, at grandma’s house, and in our own household. There are so many issues built into this election from women’s rights to immigration to the right to bear arms to the continued existence of the glass ceiling in workplaces where equality should no longer have to be an issue. Quite honestly, it’s exhausting and disheartening to see that changes that should have been made decades ago are still on the table for discussion. At the same time, we all want to raise a generation that cares and that wants to vote and that believes they can make a difference. So the best way for us to encourage that is to be involved ourselves and set that example of what it means to be a concerned citizen.

Personal matters and internal struggles aside, the issues facing us in the election this year reach far and wide. Immigration law, tax reform, the economy, and health care reform are all hot button issues that affect the workplace in leaps and bounds. In order to be relevant in our work, we have to be informed on the state of the union. It’s unavoidable, as ugly and contentious as things may get between the candidates on social media and on the debate floor. So it’s time for all of us to pull up our boot straps and buckle up for the ride!

For up to the minute news and stats on this year’s #presidentialelection, you can subscribe to news sites such as: http://www.usnews.com/topics/subjects/2016_presidential_election. But where do we go to find out what’s actually going to happen after we elect one of the most controversial presidents in the history of our nation? No matter which way you slice it, this is going to be a polarizing election, and no one knows exactly what our world looks like with #Hillary or #Trump in office. So what do we do now? As human resources professionals and leaders in your own workplace, here are a few tips on how to survive #Election2016.

  1. Remind employees that company computers and company time are not the place or avenue for political views to be expressed.
  2. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees are free to speak out about employment issues as long as it is not disruptive and occurs during non-work time in non-work areas.
  3. Give employees time to vote. And make sure you vote on election day!
  4. Foster a company atmosphere of respect and inclusion. Lead from the top down when it comes to setting the tone for office conversation about politics.
  5. Keep the office walls and casual Friday t-shirts free of controversial topics – including politics.
  6. Remember to follow the age-old policy of “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
  7. Choose to protect your team, your company vision, and your sanity. Avoid unnecessary divisiveness.

The biggest regret any of us will have is not doing something. Go out and vote. Don’t sit back and let things happen, be part of the solution not another cog in the wheel, a head buried in the sand. To make a difference, we each have to take the steps to get out there and act, regardless of what you believe or who you are voting for. In the words of James Hetfield, front man of the band Metallica, “I’d rather regret doing something than not doing something.” #dosomething #bethechange #vote