Communicating Political, Voting, and Election Day Policies to Employees.

November 3 is shaping up to be one of the most chaotic elections in recent history. COVID-19 is complicating the logistics of the 2020 election in ways we have never seen before with mail-in voting, absentee ballots, and early voting. Americans on both sides of the aisle are growing concerned if our election will be free and fair, and three times as many voters expect it will be difficult to vote compared to 2018. In response, many companies have created new policies for their employees: 
  • An unprecedented number of companies are allowing paid time off for employees to vote—more than 700 corporations have signed the Time to Vote pledge to allocate time for their employees to vote during working hours. 
  • More than 70 companies and organizations, including Uber, Major League Baseball, and Starbucks, have partnered with Power the Polls, an initiative working to address the shortage of poll workers during the pandemic. As of early September, the initiative had signed up over 350,000 volunteer poll workers
  • In recent weeks, Facebook and Google have both taken action to moderate employee discussions on internal company message boards. The tech giants both instituted new policies on internal employee communications following a rise in “inflammatory conversations” about politics and social issues. 
In a time of heightened political tension, many more companies will find themselves in a situation where they must adapt. Here are some tips and best practices for ensuring your internal communications on politics and the upcoming election are well-received and understood by your employees. Ensure consistency and clarity Consistency and clarity are critical. When explaining new company policies, especially around a divisive issue, communicators should work to eliminate confusion off the bat. For example, if your company is giving employees time off to vote, your communications should clarify if that time applies to election day only or to additional methods such as voting early.. The same materials should be sent to employees across all levels. You can’t be perceived as favoring a particular group’s ability to vote.  Know your communications channels When communicating a big announcement or new policy, it’s important to understand which communications channels will be the most effective. It is usually a good idea to deploy your message across multiple channels to ensure you reach as many stakeholders as possible. If you announce a new policy during a staff meeting, you should send a follow-up email so your employees have a written record of the announcement. Keep lines of communication open No matter how hard you work to ensure your announcement is communicated clearly and effectively, there will be questions. Keep lines of communication open to ensure your employees  are able to ask questions and prepare managers to answer them. Every announcement of a new policy should clarify where questions can be directed and what resources are available.   Over the next month, your employees will become increasingly focused on what could be the most contentious and complex election of our lives. With a strong internal communications plan, you can work to ensure that any announcement your company makes about voting and political activities will be well received and effectively communicated.


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