November 06, 2008

The Other Kind of Office Politics With Election Day one week away, it’s hard not to feel the contagion of political fervor pervading the air. But how far is this enthusiasm allowed to extend into the workplace, if at all? One might be surprised to hear that almost two-thirds of organizations have no written or unwritten policies on political activities in the workplace, according to a recent survey of 450 employers by the Society of Human Resource Management. Of the 35 percent of organizations who do have policies on political activities, the following restrictions were in place: 71 percent prohibit use of company assets in support of any political party or candidate 68 percent do not allow employees to devote work hours to any political party or campaign 68 percent do not allow any political activities on company premises 66 percent prohibit employees from using their position to pressure vendors, suppliers, or other staff to make contributions to or show support for any candidate or political party. “Employers who elect to go without official policies on political activities in the workplace are making a mistake,” says Lon O’Neil, president and CEO of SHRM. “Clear guidelines help HR professionals handle employee relations problems that can arise around election time or stop them before they occur.” What is your organization’s policy on employee political involvement? For further reading material, try HR Magazine’s October cover story, “Politics in the Office.”

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