The 2018 midterm elections are right around the corner. In this hyper-partisan, highly politicized era, it's a foregone conclusion that these elections will be pivotal for the U.S. Even though talking politics feels dangerous, staying out of politics altogether is nearly impossible.
Despite a constant bombardment of political news, many Americans are still not voting. The 2014 midterms were particularly bad, as the U.S. experienced the lowest voter turnout since World War II, with only 36.4 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.
As vital parts of their communities, businesses can play a significant role in increasing turnout by encouraging employees to voice their opinions. While you may fear that getting political at work will cause strife, here are seven reasons why encouraging employees to vote will benefit your business.
1. Encouraging employees to vote shows them you care.
Promoting political engagement shows your employees that you value them and care about their lives outside of the office.
A 2013 Harvard Business Review survey of 20,000 workers worldwide found that a powerful way to increase employee engagement and commitment is to do things that show you respect them. When you help workers vote, you are empowering them to voice their opinions and shape their communities. This shows you respect their voice and well-being. That builds a more committed and engaged workforce.
2. Political engagement increases dialogue in the office.
This may feel counterintuitive, but by bringing politics into the office, you can actually help improve communication and connection between employees.
Workers will learn more about one another, which ultimately leads to more effective team collaboration. Even if these conversations generate conflict initially, that can be another benefit as long as you handle it well.
When dialogue turns into conflict, use it as an opportunity to teach employees how to communicate better with one another by serving a mediator role.
Too often nowadays people rely on text and social media rants instead of real conversations. That's an opportunity for you. Use political conflict to teach people how to productively disagree with one another. This enhances transparency between workers and helps them avoid built-up resentment.
Moreover, embracing productive conflict may help workers feel more comfortable expressing opinions on issues affecting the business.
3. Voting helps elect candidates who help your business.
When you get employees politically engaged, you may increase your chances of electing candidates who benefit your community and business. You shouldn't tell employees who to vote for specifically. The hope is that they'll vote in their own best interests (not always a sure thing, I know), which may coincide with the best interests of your company.
4. Voting creates more informed, well-rounded employees.
When employees engage politically, they often become more well-rounded citizens with a keener grasp of the context in which your company operates.
Encouraging employees to vote potentially prompts them to research policies, stay current with the news, and get more involved in their local communities. This may help them become more informed citizens and broaden their expertise beyond the bubble of the workplace.
Understanding the world in which your business operates helps employees stay ahead of the curve on future policies that could affect your operations. They may even develop greater empathy for their communities (including customers).
5. Voting enhances creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
Encouraging employees to vote not only creates more informed citizens, but can also create more creative workers and result in better ideas.
Most managers these days generally agree they should try to create a work culture that unleashes creativity. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, contentious conversation and even conflict can boost such creativity. Encouraging employees to vote may contribute to this and therefore can increase creative thinking in the office.
6. It shows your business is socially responsible.
Businesses that give back to society are increasingly respected and coveted by millennials, which has led to a rise in corporate social responsibility.
Encouraging employees to vote is a simple, no-cost way to show your community and consumers that you care about them. When they know that you care, they may be more likely to do business with you. As an added bonus, you may find it easier to recruit and hire millennial employees.
7. Encouraging your employees to vote fulfills your civic obligation.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. In order for our society to function well, people must show up and voice their opinions at the ballot box.
Vote, and encourage your community and employees to vote with you. It's an opportunity to become more responsible and engaged as citizens. Use Election Day as a reminder of the importance of servicing our communities and working to create a better world.