Remember, remember, 5th November.

We might be getting ever closer to the firework festivities, but from our recent client conversations and industry updates, there’s enough fireworks creating drama in the workplace to put any big bonfire occasion to shame.

Blame Brexit, the US election, Afghanistan, Climate change and of course, Covid, but there’s no doubt we’ve been in a period where tensions have run high and opinions have been aired exceptionally publicly – be it on social media, or in the office corridor.

So how do you stop issues of a political nature (whether with a big or small P) from boiling over among staff?

Is it right that you would want to step in to diffuse differing stances on major social and economic matters of our time?

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Here are some top tips for keeping the fireworks from lighting the sky.

  1. Make it clear in your staff handbook, culture document, or in your onboarding or welcome packs, that all opinions are valued but that 100% respect and responsibility is expected at all times in the workplace – whether discussing topics of a business or geopolitical nature.
  2. Have a clear policy for reporting of concerns, harassment or victimisation on the basis of beliefs. Make sure it is evident how and when an employee can express fear, dissatisfaction or unacceptable workplace behaviour.
  3. Act swiftly on any knowledge of verbal or physical intimidation, bullying or conflict within the workplace. Involve your HR team from the outset, or engage a consultancy who can help you navigate this area if you need to.
  4. Remain vigilant of those who clearly have opposing or deeply controversial views, and consider whether other staff members may feel particularly uncomfortable in working directly with them. It may be possible to avoid situations where two parties would have cause to generate conflict between them.
  5. Be mindful that it is never your job to dissuade a person or persons from having a political or social or economic view of any kind, but to be observant of their beliefs, values and behaviours is helpful in the context of limiting staff unrest.
  6. Ensure employees are all aware of whether social media platforms owned by themselves are being observed, and, if appropriate, advise what you consider acceptable (and not) when it comes to them posting material which may in turn be associated with you and your brand.
  7. It may be advisable to occasionally discuss a form of ‘crisis scenario’ as a team of directors or as your board, in which you can look at ‘what you would do’ and how you would behave toward an employee or publicly in the media, if opinions were expressed by a staff member which were deemed extreme and could reflect badly.

Do you need help with reassessing how you approach conflict in the workplace?

Perhaps you’re worried about implementing a new policy.

Contact our team and we can stop the crackles and bangs from happening.