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Politics in the Breakroom Not a Problem? We Have a Different View.

Longitude LinkedIn Post V1

Last week we asked you on LinkedIn “How does your organization deal with political talk in the workplace?”  and were surprised at the outcomes.

  • 41% said political talk is not an issue in your workplace
  • 35% said your companies set strict rules
  • 25% said they leave the issue up to individual employees

While the answer may be different for every company, we believe it’s a prominent concern in many companies and can be a tough issue to manage, requiring wisdom and discernment by leadership.  Publishing reasonable guidelines can help eliminate ambiguity and offer guardrails which still action a commitment to diversity, inclusion and other vital cultural values.

The recent post by Know Your Team  “How political should I let my team be?”, laid out three really solid guidelines:

  1. Root the discussion in the aspirations and the vision of the team
  2. Acknowledge and anticipate differing opinion
  3. Be respectful and stick to the ideas without attacking the person.

In our view, leaders should also encourage employees to ask themselves a few questions before engaging in a political workplace dialogue:

  1. Is my position or statement thoughtful? Have I dug into this topic enough to really understand the core issue(s)?
  2. Have I validated these ‘facts’ for myself or am I repeating a sound bite or attention getting headline simply because I read it online or heard it from someone I otherwise believe is informed.
  3. If I never see eye to eye with this person, or my team on the political issues can I still respect and rely on their professional capacities enough to support the mission of the company and achieve our common goals?

We believe it’s important to keep the company name, brand, client value proposition, and voice separate from personal opinions. That includes company email, lunchroom bulletin boards, company events, and even your LinkedIn profile while you’re employed. If your LinkedIn persona is “VP for Acme Co” keep your messages and posts apolitical. Save those for social media channels where your profile is fully personal.

And, perhaps most importantly, leadership must work hard to be consistent; don’t say one thing and do another. We see CEOs with scripture verses in their email signature who voice support for inclusion and diversity then openly encourage their employees to contribute to a political candidate who is known to be against these core values. Consistency counts. You can’t deny the use of the lunchroom announcement board for advertising a political, religious or lifestyle event, then insist that Fox News be the only channel on the lunchroom TV. We welcome your views.

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