Companies in many states are required to give employees time to vote. In 2018, some startups are taking that guidance a step further. 

Spurred by campaigns like Time to Vote and ElectionDay.Org, in which businesses pledge to give workers paid time off on Election Day, more than 300 companies are offering to help their employees get to the polls this year. If they're not giving their staff the day off or the afternoon off to vote, companies are offering flexible work arrangements.

"I do believe Election Day should be a national holiday," says Chris Ruder, founder and CEO of Spikeball, the Chicago-based maker of Spikeball game equipment and a former Shark Tank contestant. All of his 24 employees will get five hours off on Election Day so they can go vote. "I want to encourage our employees--and anybody I can reach--to go vote. We're 24 people, so we're not going to make a huge dent in the universe, but we're doing what we can."

Similarly, Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of Kind Snacks, says he's banning calls and meetings after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, an action that will impact 700 full- and part-time employees. "Team members will have flexibility to leave--and are strongly encouraged to leave the office and vote," he writes via email.

Lubetzky credits companies like Patagonia for helping organize the Time to Vote campaign, which is helping lead the Election Day time-off effort. The outdoor-clothing outfitter will close all of its 32 retail stores in the U.S. on Election Day, as well as its corporate office and its distribution and customer service center in Nevada.

"Going forward, I think you'll see more of this," adds Lubetzky. "Businesses working together and making small changes ... That amounts to significant impact at the societal level. I'm grateful to Patagonia for rallying everyone [on Time to Vote]."

While the notion of helping people perform their civic duty is important, the real reason for the action, for some, has to do with establishing a healthy company culture. 

Meika Hollender, co-founder and CEO of Sustain Natural, a New York City-based startup that sells sexual-health and feminine-hygiene products marketed to women, including all-natural condoms and tampons, is making November 6 a work-from-home day so that all of her 14 employees have enough time to vote. People become entrepreneurs because "they want to rewrite the rules," Hollender says. 

"I want to create a business that leaves a positive impact in the world, not just in terms of a product, but in terms of policies and everything that we do," adds Hollender. "I think yes, it's scary, and yes, it's challenging. But if it doesn't start with us, who is going to start? Who is going to rewrite the rules?"

Published on: Nov 2, 2018