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Politics at Work Can’t Be Avoided; Human Resource Professionals Need to Train Workers for Political Diversity

Conventional business wisdom has long held that employees should check their political opinions at the door. A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management says that doesn’t work anymore.

“Kansas employers need to realize that you can’t forbid employees from talking about politics,” said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. “Our research indicates that they’re having these conversations anyway. It’s on the upswing. Fifty-six percent of employees, according to our research, tell us that the conversations have been on the increase for the last four years.”

With the impeachment inquiry and the impending 2020 election cycle, these conversations will continue.

“The real task for us is to train our people managers, people who actually supervise employees every day, about how to have civil conversations about politics,” said Taylor.

More than a third of those surveyed say their workplace is not inclusive of differing political perspectives.

“Encourage employees to have conversations where they may disagree without becoming disagreeable,” said Taylor. “We need to teach how to not talk over employees when people have an opinion different from yours and how to separate fact from fiction. Yes, there are going to be the informal conversations where management will not be there, but what we’ve got to do is figure out how to manage and facilitate and teach people to have constructive dialogue about politics.”

Taylor says the lack of disruption is possible by incorporating these conversations into training and being intentional about workplace inclusion.


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