As a CHRO, I recognize the importance of giving employees the flexibility to participate in the upcoming election, whether it’s going to vote or giving time off to volunteer. Election seasons can be stressful, and this year, it likely will add additional tension to an already volatile time period. While being faced with a recession, pandemic and social unrest, leaders should be aware of employees feeling isolated, especially as many employees are working remotely, and becoming disengaged.
Below are several ways to support employee mental health and mitigate stress during the upcoming election.
One way LaSalle Network supports employees during election season is by offering two days of PTO for individuals to campaign for a candidate or cause of their choosing. By giving employees the option to take paid time off to campaign before November 3, employers can help provide an outlet for election-related stress and promote employee wellbeing. Allotting time for employees to step away and proactively invest in a cause they are passionate about can promote a sense of purpose and accomplishment while helping prevent burnout.
While employees may be able to campaign on their own time, providing the option for employees to do so during work hours increases the likelihood of them volunteering. Especially during such uncertainty in the social and economic climate, and while many volunteer options have shifted to virtual opportunities, employees may be unaware of how to get involved. Employees who feel supported by their employer to get involved in a cause that is important to them as an individual are more likely to have a sense of appreciation and loyalty towards their company. This improves employee engagement and retention while creating a more positive work experience.
Offering time off to campaign or vote not only encourages and uplifts employees, but it can also help attract and retain talent, as well. Giving employees time off to volunteer for a campaign of their choosing encourages them to consider what causes they are passionate about and ways to invest in their communities to enact positive change. This makes for more satisfied and productive employees who feel they are supported and able to express themselves.
While many cities still have some type of restrictions on in-person campaigning, there are still ways for your employees to get involved and volunteer safely. Consider providing employees information on where to look to find these volunteer opportunities.
Another way to help support employees would be to offer time off to vote. More than 700 companies have now pledged to give employees time off to vote, with several notable organizations like Coca Cola and Twitter making November 3 a paid holiday for all staff. Providing employees with PTO to vote in this election could be a great way for company leadership to support employees’ best interest, as many may be worried about polls being crowded or uncertain about absentee ballots being an option this year.
While giving employees time off during a financial crisis may be challenging or not possible for some organizations at this time, research shows when employees are stressed, they are less productive and engaged in their work. In a Colonial Life study, 50 percent of employees reported they lose between one and five hours of production each week due to stress. Allocating PTO to encourage employees to vote or campaign may help them stay engaged in their work.
Business Wire, "Colonial Life study: Stressed workers costing employers billions – weekly," March 14, 2019