There are many Australian workers who have experienced stress or tensions from political discussions in the Workplace. There can be discussions about current affairs in the office, but when emotions and opinions run high, people can get irritated, and some people are also sensitive to such talks.
Well-meaning political debates can turn ugly and lead to workplace conflicts. It can also result in a hostile work environment, and it is necessary to take steps to prevent it. In this guide, you will receive tips on things to watch out for and how to keep your Workplace neutral.
Things You Need to Look Out for in Case of Workplace Political Conflicts
Some important things that you need to look out for are as follows:
- Violation of EEO laws
With the current media focusing on political topics such as healthcare, immigration and women issues, it can be easy to know how a discussion can be thought of as prejudiced or hostile. You can easily know how a discussion can violate sexual harassment laws and workplace types of discrimination.
Conversations regarding national origin, age, sex, religion or race can leave someone feeling uneasy regarding the political banter. Employees may claim that they are harassed for their political stands and beliefs.
Though political affiliations are not under a protected class, improper behaviour towards an individual can be called abusive conduct. A person can find malice offensive and hostile, which can lead to the violation of equal employment opportunity laws.
- Passive-aggressive behaviours
When there is a diverse workforce, you will have employees who have different political beliefs, and it is important to watch for retaliation signs. For some people, politics are just as personal to them as their sports team, and disagreements can lead people to become outspoken and even opt for passive-aggressive behaviours.
They may ignore people, be late with their work projects so that others are unable to complete theirs, favouritism, be rude or give bad performance evaluations. This can lead to the involvement of Employment Lawyers in such circumstances.
If you notice your employees displaying such behaviours, you need to take them aside and address their issues in a respectful manner. Allowing them to continue their behaviour will negatively affect the morale of employees and create a sense of mistrust in the Workplace. You need to let employees know that what they are doing is inappropriate.
- Policies of the company
Your company’s code of conduct policy can define how your employees must act every day. In most cases, you can reprimand an employee if their conduct interferes with their work activities. But, if a political debate takes place in the Workplace, it can lead to the violation of the policy.
Many people believe they have a right to free speech, but this is not something that applies to most of the Workplace. Private employers have the authority and independence to set rules and write policies that revolve around politically motivated activities and political talk.
Though you may not desire to end all political discussions in the Workplace to avoid political conflicts, you can create certain policies that can help to discourage political conversations.
How Do You Manage Political Conflicts?
Discussing politics at work should not create any problems as long as it is done respectfully. Such discussions should not lead to discriminatory comments or actions. If you want to manage political conflicts in your Workplace, you need to do the following:
- You need to train your employees on ways they can signal their co-workers when they are starting to feel offended in an effective way. This can help to empower employees and help to keep a neutral work environment.
- You can take anonymous surveys on how employees in your office feel about political conversations by gathering information in a prompt and easy way.
- You can easily handle political conflicts by letting the offended employer ask their co-workers to take this conversation to other places. But not every individual has the ability to confront their peers so openly.
- A company email can be sent to co-workers with suggestions to address political conflicts. You can ask your manager to deliver this message which can be an easy and neutral solution.
- A company email can help to put everyone on the same page and will not single out any individual who wants to use the suggested option. You need to specify the consequences that can occur if employees retaliate or do not comply with the rules.
Tips that Can Help to Avoid Workplace Political Conflict
Some tips that can help you avoid workplace conflicts are as follows:
- You need to focus on diversity, inclusion and equity
Employees who work in companies that value equity, diversity and inclusion are already aware of how to have tough conversations in a good and respectful way. They know that they play an important role in supporting an open and fair environment in their Workplace.
Workplace conflicts cannot occur when there is a general understanding that everyone has their own beliefs, opinions and values. This can result in more mutual respect and fewer chances for a hostile work environment.
- You need to set an example from the top and monitor discussions.
Leaders at all levels need to set an example in the Workplace about avoiding political talks. It can be done easily, especially with direct reports, and it needs to include making jokes about a specific employee’s policy or party.
If a leader hears employees discussing politics, they can help to change the conversation by reminding them that customers are not present and such topics can be saved for later. Monitoring conversations is not to limit someone’s beliefs but to help avoid political discussions in the Workplace.
When political opinions disrupt work in your place, you need to address the issue and make the necessary adjustments. You can hire the services of a reputed employment lawyers Perth to ensure that if a situation has escalated to a great level, it will not harm the reputation of your company. You need to ensure to keep your work environment safe and free of hostility.