Unless you've been living under a rock, you're no doubt aware this year's presidential election is going to be...contentious. That means that, in order to ensure fair, timely voting on Election Day, we're going to need plenty of volunteer election workers.
There's only one problem. Many of the folks who usually volunteer for this essential-but-under-sung job are older. This year, there's a pandemic and their age bracket is most at risk from the virus. Many fear the result will be a severe shortage of Election Day workers.
But not if corporate America has anything to say about it. Hundreds of large companies have joined a campaign called Power the Polls, pledging to give their people paid time off to staff up their local polling places. Starbucks, Facebook, Gap, Nike, Twitter, and dozens more have joined the ever-growing list of participating firms.
Facebook is also launching a push across its platform to recruit poll workers. "We are seeing a massive shortage of poll workers to staff voting stations," Mark Zuckerberg said in a post announcing its recruitment drive. "Shortages can lead to hours-long waits at the polls, which makes it harder for people to participate in the democratic process."
Should your business follow suit?
This initiative is clearly a good idea for our democracy, which desperately needs the election to go smoothly. But it raises an important question for smaller businesses: Should you follow suit?
It's been a brutal year for many smaller businesses, so offering an additional employee benefit might be a stretch too far for many in the year of Covid-19. That being said, the poor government response to the virus was a major contributing factor to our economic pain. Paying a little bit now to nudge us all towards a better government tomorrow might be a worthwhile investment.
Plus, actively working towards a better world is one of the surest cures for despair and hopelessness. And your team will probably be more productive if they're more hopeful and feel a tiny bit more in control, given the chaos swirling around us.
Even if you can't afford to pay your people to help out on Election Day, you could offer them time off to vote and encourage them to make it to the polls. Each year more and more businesses are doing their part. Forty-four percent of firms offered time off to vote in 2018, according to Bloomberg). If you haven't already, it's worth considering if this year is the right time to join them.
Or if you are personally interested in volunteering to make sure Election Day goes smoothly in your community, you can find more information about how to help here.