Election anxiety is real – and your team may already be wrestling with it, especially if you’re a leader in the nonprofit, philanthropic, or education sector.
I remember how on edge my students and I felt during the 2020 election, wondering how either outcome would directly affect us. And later, it felt like an outer body experience working with elementary students through the insurrection on January 6 – we can’t ignore that or stick to business as usual again.
We’re entering into this election cycle with DEI initiatives entirely under attack. Many companies have already begun to cave under the pressure to eliminate or dilute their efforts for change. This season calls us to lean into courage and put into practice the principles we say we’re committed to. Black and Brown people, queer and trans communities, people with disabilities, and all marginalized groups don’t have the luxury of ignoring what’s going on or ‘keeping politics out of it’ when said politics are threatening their very lives.
Taking a passive stance and expecting that your team will just power through this election cycle as if the state of politics is normal is not just insensitive – it’s bad for business. Employees are less productive, more prone to burnout, and potentially willing to walk away from the organization completely when they’re overwhelmed by the stress of the job and the world going on around them.
As we get closer to the November election, here are a few things your organization should be considering:
🪧Flexible Work Arrangements:
Are you planning to close your offices on Election Day? How can you encourage employees to take a mental health day or personal time off if needed?
What about the day after the election? Given the polarity in our country a fall break on election day and the day after will allow space for employees to process before coming back to work.
Recognize that employees may need flexibility during election time. Consider flexible work hours or remote work options to reduce stress.
Ensure that employees have ample time to exercise their right to vote without feeling rushed.
Share resources on how to navigate political discussions constructively and maintain a positive work environment.
Offer information on voting processes, deadlines, and encourage civic engagement.
Understand the implications of the election on your employees mental, physical, and emotional health. Have you considered how the ongoing genocide in Palestine is affecting your employees mental health? Have you considered how restrictions to abortion, police brutality, or attacks on DEI may be impacting your employees?
Implement wellness programs that focus on mental health, stress reduction, and resilience.
Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for additional support and counseling services.
Leaders should communicate openly about the organization's commitment to inclusivity and respect.
Encourage leaders to model constructive conversations and respectful behavior.
Monitor for Bias and Harassment:
Keep an eye out for signs of bias or harassment related to political affiliations and address such issues promptly.
Reiterate the organization's commitment to a harassment-free workplace.
Training and Education:
Provide training on diversity, equity, and inclusion to enhance employees' understanding of different perspectives.
Equip managers with the skills to address potential conflicts and create a harmonious work environment.
It’s not too early to begin prepping for how the election will impact your business. Ignoring it or planning without a DEI lens leaves your organization vulnerable to employee dissatisfaction, and potential mistakes that can be costly and reputation damaging.
What other lessons from the last election would you add to this?