President Donald J. Trump

Discussing Trump in the Workplace

#13 | What happens when politics is discussed in the workplace? A recent survey says that American workers are stressed out by any and all chatter about Donald Trump and politics in general. Despite that fact, with another presidential election on the horizon, there is no sign of that trend changing. So, what are you as a worker to do? Moreover, what can managers do (if anything) to curtail political discussions that can divide an office, much like the USA is these days? Tune in to hear my thoughts and strategies for how workers and managers can navigate these interesting times today and in the future.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The 2017 Recruiter Nation Report produced by Jobvite, a recruiting software company, breaks down recruiters’ attitudes, behaviors, fears, strategies, and predictions for how to build the best companies possible — good people, good practices, and good culture. Among the survey findings was something I found a bit… startling. When recruiters are researching candidates for opportunities, 51% of the 831 US recruiters surveyed, saw political rants on a candidate’s social media as a red flag.

Should someone’s political affiliation be a matter of concern when recruiting talent? Apparently, many US recruiters think so today and with another presidential election on the horizon, I see it as a future issue as well. What happens when Trump is discussed in your office? I’ll be talking about that after this special message.

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I was so surprised to discover that so many recruiters red flag candidates based on their political views that I did my own, very unscientific poll on Twitter. The question was this, “RECRUITERS, have you ever turned down a candidate based on political beliefs you found on social media?” 21 Recruiters responded and 29% of them said yes which I thought was pretty high for such a low number of respondents. I also solicited comments from my network of recruiters and many responded openly, others privately, and this is what some of them had to say.

• One person said, “I interpret political interests much differently than political rants. I think often times people who cross boundaries of what is considered “socially acceptable” social media behavior can be viewed as a liability to corporations. Rants are usually emotionally triggered too”

• Someone else said, “This is a great illustration of why “cultural fit” should never be in a job description or ad. With all this trying to be politically correct, all the time, otherwise great candidates go unhired. On the other end of that spectrum, the calls for NOT being politically correct yields the same results. What ever happened to just focusing on human decency and skills? Social media has messed up the hiring process. It’s being abused by everyone. I believe everyone has a right to their own opinions. As long as a person isn’t putting someone else in jeopardy or harms way, let them have their views. As long as the work can get done in a manner of excellence, I don’t care what their views are. Work is for work anyway, not a place to argue politics, religion, etc.”

• And another opinion, “I guess the question Jim Stroud is would you hire someone you knew was a white supremacist [but] otherwise well qualified? I’m struggling with recruiters who regularly post something homophobic or anti Muslim. Would I hire them? Probably not”

Another reason why all this talk of politics in the workplace is of interest to me is because of the small talk I make with the business executives I meet at meeting and conferences; once they realize I can keep a secret. In one such instance, I am sitting with someone in a cafe and breaking away from business chatter to regard breaking news. On a television, a reporter is detailing news of a political protest on a college campus that has turned violent. We could not hear the reporter but, the headline on the screen told us enough for my client to comment. For whatever reason, one student attacked another for wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

“What happens if I hire one of those students?” the client asked me. “And what if one of my customers is a Trump supporter who likes to wear a MAGA hat or button? Do I have to worry about someone suing my business because one of my workers cannot control themselves? What if they are not violent but, decide to engage in political debate and offend my customer, as a result, I lose business and now I have to lay people off?”

Although I did my best to comfort him and dissuade his fears, I had to admit that his concerns were totally valid. In October of last year, Bloomberg reported a significant drop in restaurant receipts, the most since 2016. Some analysts put the blame on hurricanes that happened near that time whereas others pointed the finger at politics. If you do a search on “refused service due to maga hat,” you will find a LOT (and I do mean a lot) of search results. Here are just a few…

Three Black GOP Interns: Uber Denied Us a Ride Because of Our Trump Support
Watch: Unhinged Leftist Has Mental Breakdown, Refuses Service To Trump Supporter in Vape Shop
Woman Says Restaurant Threw Her Out Over Trump Hat
A Canadian Restaurant Refused to Serve a Man Wearing a MAGA Hat and Now Its Yelp Score is Ruined
Restaurant manager fired for refusing service to man in MAGA hat
Man Sues Bar for Refusing Service Over Trump Hat
‘Latina For Trump’ Kicked Out of Arizona Bar For Wearing Red “MAGA” Hat (VIDEO)

So, what do you do if you are a manager dealing with political discussions in your office? What do you do if you are a worker and maybe, just maybe, you came to work – to work and not deal with political discussions. Well, either way, I have a few suggestions.

Okay, managers, as much as you may want to ban all political discussion in the workplace, you cannot. My understanding is employees have the right to engage in political discussions because the National Labor Relations Board classifies such discussion as a “protected concerted activity.” However, you can intervene when discussions become disrespectful or distracting because such could be construed as a hostile work environment. And nobody wants that. Managers can also step in if those political discussions are impeding productivity; so, there’s that. Discussing politics during lunch breaks, sorry managers, your hands are tied; grin and bear it. All that being said, I am not an expert on employment law in your state (or any other state for that matter). So, my suggestions should not be regarded as legal advice. Just sayin’…

And for the workers, 3 things to think about.

Point #1: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? Think of your political views the same way you regard your sex life— its a personal matter, not a professional one. In a perfect world, your co-workers may know that you vote but they don’t know how you vote.
Point #2: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It creates bias. You might start to make assumptions and harbor resentment towards your co-workers once you learn their political leanings, and this could lead to a less-than-harmonious working relationship that stifles productivity because you don’t want to be around them anymore. .
Point #3: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It makes workers feel isolated or it could make them feel bullied. Being the only Republican, being the only Democrats, being the only Libertarian or Green Party supporter need not be awkward; just so long as you veer away from political discussions. In some cases, political discussions intersect with social issues and as such, voicing a strong opinion on such things as same-sex marriage which could lead to some employees feeling discriminated against. Make sense?

And one final word to all the Republicans, Democrats, Democratic Socialists, Libertarians, Green Party Supporters, Liberals, Conservatives, far left radicals, far right radicals and anyone else I may have missed who are working in your office and mine, buckle up, the 2020 Presidential election is coming soon. God help us all.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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