It’s hard to define what civic engagement looks like these days. With sharp divides in the U.S. electorate, many companies may believe the best policy around an election cycle these days is to just keep quiet and let it blow over.
Not so fast! Employees look to their employers to lead the way. Strong employee engagement and belief in company culture exists because of shared values—something you can’t leverage if your company policy is to hide until the election goes away! Simply put, encouraging civic engagement boosts your employee engagement.
Why Does Civic Engagement Support Employee Engagement?
Civic engagement can be directly applied to employee engagement and buy-in at work. Basically, when you have disengaged citizens who choose not to vote, they are often saying some of the same things that disengaged employees say: my input doesn’t matter, I don’t have time to be bothered with anything extra, or I don’t feel educated or competent enough to do this right.
Encouraging your employees to engage in the voting process, and giving them the tools to do so successfully and confidently, offers a shift in mindset to disengaged or discouraged employees. When they see that they have the ability to participate in the process, they can bring that same attitude to work.
So, what can your team do to support employees in civic engagement?
Provide Information on Where and How to Vote
With so many “fake news” issues surrounding the media today, some employees may be suffering serious trust issues from even their local newspaper. Others may have social media literacy problems which increase the possibility they’ll believe fraudulent social media posts and half-truths shared on partisan websites. If there’s one source employees still trust, it’s their employer. A majority of workers consistently say they trust employer-employee communications.
Use that trust to give them the information they need. Gathering the facts your employees can use to safely and securely cast their ballot is an easy way to share useful, trustworthy information that supports a culture of civic engagement in your company. It also shows you are invested in their needs.
Provide Paid Time Off to Vote
While this may require some extra effort to put into place, providing paid time off to vote is growing in popularity across the country. In 2018, 44% of U.S. businesses offered this perk. Providing paid time off to vote has its challenges: while it’s relatively simple to offer this perk to office or home-based knowledge workers, active workers and shift workers will need coverage by other employees.
Need help selling this proposal? Look to Time to Vote, a business-led initiative to help employees gain the right to vote on the clock, arguing that choosing between voting and earning a paycheck shouldn’t be the normal business practice.
Provide Non-Partisan Voting Resources
Many potential voters don’t realize that voting guides exist to help them make decisions about candidates, ballot propositions, or amendments they might not fully understand on their own. Rather than make a mistake in voting, or simply anxious about facing all of these confusing choices in the polling place, undecided citizens simply choose not to vote.
Share tools your employees can use to get the knowledge they need on candidates and issues in their community. One easy resource for this is Vote411, a non-partisan source of voting information run by the League of Women Voters Education Fund. Potential voters simply type in their address, and are offered information including their polling place, voting options, and candidate-by-candidate, measure-by-measure voting guides which give background information on each choice.
When you boost civic engagement, you’re fostering a sense of ownership and pride amongst your employees which can be translated into better engagement and buy-in at work, as well. Plus, you’re ensuring that your company measures up to the strong ideals many of your employees hold. It’s a winning proposition.