HR Leadership: The Importance of Political Neutrality in the Workplace
Today’s political climate is driving more conversation than ever in and out of the workplace. We are bombarded daily with news around current events, access to information, and social media. Employees on all sides of the political spectrum are fired up and discussion in the workplace is inevitable. Without proper discussion ahead of time, political conversations in the workplace can become heated and spiral out of control resulting in loss of respect, poor communications, and decreased teamwork. For this reason, it’s important for HR Leaders to remain neutral in these discussions.
But why is staying neutral important?
Influence: HR leaders are trusted authority figures and most employees have a high level of respect for their words and actions. They are, after all, the people that employees confide in for advice, problem resolution, and career guidance. HR leaders expressing personal political opinions can isolate the HR leader from a segment of their employees who hold differing political opinions and beliefs. Remaining neutral builds the level of trust that is critical for HR leadership success.
Polarization: HR leaders in working environments should remain supportive and free of judgment, allowing co-workers to realize their full potential without feeling threatened or marginalized for their political views. It’s much more difficult to effectively lead HR initiatives when some employees experience fundamental political disagreements with the head of HR. Discussing and promoting personal political views creates an environment where employees with opposing views feel polarized and even perceive marginalization by the HR leader.
Disruption: The goal of HR leadership is to be an effective business partner with the organization by providing HR solutions that foster great business results through improved teamwork and employee engagement. It’s one thing to discuss public policy and its impact on the organization, but it’s entirely another to introduce personal political opinion in the work setting. The outcome can be disruptive to employee engagement and fulfillment and derail critical business objectives and discourage employee involvement.
F. Luis Buentello, MS, SHRM-SCP is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate HRD Program at Villanova University. Learn more about him here!
Photo credit from Flickr Creative Commons: Epic Top 10 and 770 Sport Shop