no-politics-at-work (feat)
no-politics-at-work (feat)

Partisan Politics and Small Business Don’t Mix!

You can’t escape it!

This year’s political battles are in the daily headlines. It’s also a popular topic of conversation around the water cooler. Nearly everyone has an opinion about politics.

The wonderful thing about living in this country—the freedom to express our opinions. However, as my mother used to say, “Susan, there’s a time and a place for everything.”

The workplace is not the place for politics.

Here’s what you can do to keep your workplace politically correct:

Make your business a politics-free zone

Political discussions with co-workers often result in conflict affecting productivity and performance. When it comes to your customers or clients—it could mean lost business.

To minimize potential problems, many small businesses are creating policies to keep partisan politics out of the office.

Here are some things to consider for your small business.

  •  Discourage conversation. Let your team members know that political discussions should be conducted on their personal time, not at the office. In addition to creating divisiveness, conversations regarding specific political positions could rise to the level of harassment. For example, comments about immigration policy or women’s rights might offend an employee to the degree that it creates a hostile and oppressive work environment subjecting you to potential liability.
  • Limit political signage. It’s a good idea to limit political signage and other political paraphernalia. That’s particularly true if your customers or clients come to your location. They may see the posted material as an endorsement, which could cost you business.
  •  Don’t ask, don’t tell. Never ask your employees or customers who they support. You don’t want to appear to be coercing anyone to vote a certain way. Furthermore, if you’re asked this question, it’s best to keep quiet. You can decline to answer, change the subject, or excuse yourself from the conversation.

When you’re working, you’re there to do a job, not campaign for a particular candidate or position. It’s unfortunate, but people often judge others based on their political views, which may affect the way they view your business.

There are numerous times I bite my tongue when it comes to politics in a business setting. Politics, like religion, is personal. Be respectful of everyone’s right to participate in the political process, but remember it doesn’t belong in your small business.

Does your business have a “no politics at work” policy? Tell us about it!

Comments:

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  1. Great article!!

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  2. In addition, if you are publicly supporting a candidate or initiative you may be losing business and not even realizing it. There’s a clock repair shop just down the street. All of their vehicles have political bumper stickers that are abhorrent to me. I’ll take my clock somewhere else. I spend about $80 once a year for routine maintenance and cleaning.

    Perhaps they don’t need the business and don’t care. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that not everyone is in business to make money or be successful — some are just killing time.) But I’d know the difference and that’s what matters.

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  3. Felicia •

    @Charleen Larson and @Susan Solovic: HuffPost Live is doing a segment “Politics are Bad for Small Business” tomorrow (9/11/2012) at 3:00pm EST and we’d love for you all to be a guest on our segment via webcam. If interested, feel free to contact me at felicia.kelley@huffingtonpost.com. Thanks!

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  4. Business owner •

    As a small business owner, the outcome of this election is going to have an enormous impact on our economic environment. My employees understand how government policy impacts our business and that of our clients and which candidates support small business and which ones don’t. They will understand fully why they are growing with our company or out of a job come November. They’re free to vote for whichever candidate they choose but, they know that the results could impact their futures…

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