I learned a valuable lesson from my late mother in law about business and politics. She was a small town business owner who had very strong political beliefs but never broadcast her politics publicly. I remember asking her once before I was in business why she didn't put up a yard sign at her home or at her store. She said that her business could suffer if she made a a political statement and that her business was to important to her to bring in politics.
Given the incredibly divisive nature of politics these days, it might be a good idea not to voice your political opinions if you are a business owner. After all, your business is essentially apolitical, you should take a cue from that neutrality and not engage in political banter. Online or off.
In the eyes of most people, you are your business.
People do not separate owners from their businesses. If you were to publicly express a political opinion in a forum or a chat room and the word got out, it could potentially damage your business. Even your employees can create issues with their political opinions, be aware of that fact moving forward.
The right to express yourself can be at loggerheads with the continued productivity of your business. While it sounds ominous, it doesn't have to be. When people divide themselves so radically along political lines there are remedies for nourishing a thriving and successful business. Let's take a look at some of those.
Five tips for keeping your business politics-free
1. Create a "politics-free" policy for your company.
This should be inclusive of all employees and staff from the owner down. While working for you either online or in-store, politics are not allowed to be discussed. Make it clear that on their own time they can do whatever they choose, but while working, their politics must not reflect on the company.
2. Embrace anonymity.
This advice falls under the category of avoiding politics while at work. If your ego forces you to post political gibberish, take the anonymous route. The internet is forever, as are your posts. If you or your employees are posting politically incendiary comments, that record is saved forever. If you must get online and tout an agenda, do so anonymously. You are still exercising your right to free speech and opinion, but you are doing it anonymously. Separate your politics from your business with this anonymity.
3. Create a political safe-space at your company.
Go out of your way to ensure that your place of business is not political, and will not engage in political rhetoric. Firm but polite refusals to engage in political talk should be taught to all employees dealing with the public. Your company is there to sell product, not weigh the pros and cons of the different candidates.
4. Play the neutral card.
While we don't advocate lying, it might be good to indicate, when pressed, that you voted independent, or didn't vote at all. Anything to shut down the train wreck of political banter (at this point) is a good thing, and should be exercised.
5. Focus on creating a workplace culture that supports and heals apolitically.
Too much political vitriol can reduce productivity at the work place and create an atmosphere of bullying. Set your anti-political measures in place immediately, if you haven't already done it. Hold the bullies and instigators accountable for their actions openly. No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, it has no place in the work environment.
We all thought the madness would end when the elections were over, unfortunately that has not been the case. With anti-political measures in place your company should be able to weather this storm. Business is about making money, not political agendas.
How have you handled it in your company?