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Should Political Talk in the Workplace Be Off-Limits?

1.16.13

Charlotte Managing Partner Mason Alexander was the featured expert in the “Ask the Experts” column in the January 16 edition of The Charlotte Observer.  The article “Should Political Talk in the Workplace Be Off-Limits?” revisited the topic of political discussions in the workplace that was addressed during the recent Presidential election season.  Inauguration celebrations taking place in January may revive workplace talk about politics. Mason said that for employers, the best strategy is to not formally express personal political stances, so as not to give the impression that employees must vote a certain way to keep their jobs. One exception, he noted,  is educating employees on a specific political issue, such as a piece of legislation that would have an immediate impact on the business. For example, the new Affordable Health Care Act may affect the company’s health benefits. If employees devote a lot of time to talking about politics, however, employers might want to handle it the same way they do the Super Bowl, or March Madness – events that can mean “a colossal loss of productivity” in the workplace. “If people are chatting and it doesn’t affect productivity, and people are not hot under the collar, that’s probably not an issue. On the other hand, if people are losing focus on their jobs, then the employer needs to tell them to get back to work. This is not ‘Meet the Press,’ this is work.”

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