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We don’t need a poll to know that many of you are feeling apprehensive about the upcoming elections in the United States.

Regardless of employees’ political leanings or personal perspectives, emotions may be running high in your workplace. And after the election, the intensity of these feelings may remain elevated. It’s also possible that election outcomes may be uncertain beyond November 3, adding to the anxiety many employees are feeling. Employee communications are essential to easing this anxiety and helping employees feel supported.

How can you create a solid employee communications approach that supports employees, helps your organization stay as focused and productive as possible, and remains true to your mission and values? Here are a few tips to consider:

Put your values front and center

Ignoring the reality of this contentious time is not an option. Ensure your CEO and executive team proactively communicate during the next few weeks, leading with your company’s values. Have the CEO remind employees of these values, specifically around tolerance and respect for others. After the election, however it plays out, acknowledge the challenges we face together as a country and reinforce the importance of how employees treat each other in the workplace.

Set expectations now

Work with Human Resources to establish and communicate guidelines around language that won’t be tolerated in virtual chats, online forums or other employee communication opportunities, and work to ensure these guidelines are enforced, starting now. Recognize that political views are a dimension of diversity and apply the ground rules you set to ensure respectful dialogue.

Support your managers

Provide information and tools to help managers lead through this period of time. Help them understand the range of emotions and level of anxiety employees may be feeling; suggest boundaries they can establish within their team on appropriate discourse and “rules of engagement;” encourage them to listen actively and lead with empathy; and remind them to take care of themselves.

Be prepared

While it’s impossible to anticipate everything that could happen (who could have envisioned a year like 2020?), brainstorm possible scenarios and responses for post-election events. For example, in the event that results remain unclear after Election Day, plan to reiterate the importance of working together.

Plan for consistency

Line up leaders and communicators in the company now, and be sure everyone knows who is authorized to speak on behalf of the company. Establish a contingency plan and core message guide so employee communications are consistent. Remind leaders that anything they say or do might go viral and can be perceived as representing the company’s point of view; plan in advance how to mitigate those situations.

Pause

Before responding to provocative statements or requests for comment, take a moment to ensure you’re maintaining objectivity and a level head. Recenter yourself on your company’s values so your response contributes to a positive future rather than exacerbating division and conflict, and consider how your response will be publicly perceived.

Take care of yourself

Give yourself the time and space you need to process your feelings and reactions to events so you can effectively counsel your organization and lead your team.

While 2020 has been a difficult year, it has provided a rare opportunity for companies to demonstrate their values and their commitment to employees. Planning now for possible scenarios following Election Day in the U.S. will help you stay one step ahead.

Where to turn for help

Know that the ROI team is here to help you. Here are just a few examples of how we can support you:

  • Crisis communication planning
  • Message development
  • Manager briefings and toolkits

Contributor:


Catherine Forman, Senior Vice President and Strategic Advisor, ROI

Interested in learning how to improve your communication approach?

The Enlightened Workplace Project is an online course to help professionals and communicators build the best employee experience for their teams. The program takes an insightful look at what truly drives and sustains employee engagement and high-performing teams.

The Enlightened Workplace Project

About ROI Communication

We believe people should feel inspired at work. Because inspired people deliver extraordinary results.

We know what it takes to turn a company into a community. With 19 years of employee communications and employee engagement expertise, we craft innovative, purpose-driven strategies that connect cultures and create brand champions. And we do it all — from planning and creative development, to execution and measuring results — with joy in our hearts and a commitment to doing the right thing.