Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons

With the 2016 presidential race heating up, employees may be more likely to engage in political conversations at work. Politics is a topic that people have very strong and divided feelings about and have great potential to offend and divide the workplace. While such talk is not illegal per se, many political topics involve protected class issues such as race, age, gender, and religion which do create legal implications.

A good rule of thumb: keep it out of the workplace.

Political talk can also impact productivity as employees may find themselves debating over their views. To minimize your legal and productivity impact, be sure your company has well drafted and communicated anti-harassment and standards of communication policies. With the current political climate, some companies are addressing the issue head-on at staff meetings, reminding employees that all communications need to be respectful.

All that said, it’s probably difficult and not completely reasonable to ban all political talk in the workplace.

A few helpful reminders for employees:

  1. Keep conversations about politics light and friendly. Don’t get into debates or arguments with each other.
  2. If someone disagrees with you or doesn’t want to talk about an issue; respect that. Don’t become confrontational or try to “convert” them.
  3. Avoid conversations that involve any protected class issues such as race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
  4. If you’re a supervisor, avoid political conversations with the people you supervise all together.

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There are five primary approaches to dealing with conflict: 1) Authority, 2) Compromise, 3) Avoidance, 4) Accommodation, and 5) Collaboration. Many people are comfortable with a few of these approaches but not with all five.

If you misuse, overuse or under-use any of the five, you take a risk the conflict will become worse. Review the five situations below and decide which method of conflict resolution you would apply in each context, realizing there may be more than one good answer.

  • You are having an argument with your boss.
  • The other shift leaves a mess for your team to clean up.
  • A customer is harassing your receptionist.
  • You need to settle a dispute fast between two coworkers who report to you.
  • You see one coworker calling out his teammate for missing a deadline.

Argument with your boss: Disagreements are healthy and some supervisors value an employee who thinks and shares their views openly. Conflict can be a sign of trust and caring. However, you need to know when to stop and defer to your supervisor’s experience.

   Likely best choice: Accommodation

Other shift leaves you a mess: In surveys, inter-departmental conflict is usually one of the lowest rated areas for management. Problems persist, complaints recur and frustration mounts. Jumping to conclusions about how irresponsible or disrespectful others are may aggravate the situation. Instead, listen actively to how they want your relationship to work. Show appreciation for what they are doing right. Ask their help in first understanding and then addressing the problem. Thank them when progress is made.

   Likely best choice: Collaboration (win-win)

Customer Harassing Receptionist: While you want to treat outsiders with respect, you must not compromise principles or ignore the law. Managers need to be alert to harassment and to take immediate corrective action. If you are in the best position to stand up for the employee to the customer, be objective and clear about what is okay and not okay. Document the situation for your manager and Human Resources. Stay informed.

   Likely best choice: Authority

Settling a Minor Dispute Fast: When there is time, collaboration to find a win-win solution is ideal. But sometimes a job needs to be done promptly and exploring alternatives will take much too long. If a dispute isn’t important to the parties involved or your organization, the wisest course may be finding a middle ground where neither party has a clear win or loss.

   Likely best choice: Compromise

Coworker v. Coworker: As with most judgment calls, it depends on the context. However, if the coworker that is being criticized is receptive to his colleague’s feedback there is no need to intercede. Holding teammates accountable is the hallmark of a healthy team. As long they are respectful, such interactions may create trust.

   Likely best choice: Avoidance

Being a Leader doesn’t mean you do what is comfortable for you. A Leader needs to do what is best in the Big Picture. Learning when and how to use each of the five conflict management approaches is critical is earning credibility and making your team succeed.



Thumbs up!

If you’re looking to get a really quick pulse on your culture and employee engagement, here is the one statement you should ask employees to rate their agreement with:

“It would take a lot for me to leave this organization.”

BAM! That’s it. That one little statement will let you know just enough about what employees think of their work experience with your company. It may want to make you dig deeper, but sometimes a quick pulse is all you’re after.

You know what’s even better? For Members of Cascade Employers Association we conduct a Quick Pulse Employee Survey as a benefit of membership every year. Not only do we use the statement above, we ask just two additional questions that give you that deeper dig you might be after.

One more thing. If you’re going to survey your workforce, even with just one statement, make sure you are committed to doing something meaningful with the results you get. There’s no quicker way to dampen employee engagement by asking for input and doing nothing about it.



BHS Athens Services Sun Valley

Ever wonder what happens to your recyclables once they get picked up by the collection truck? This Eugene-based member is probably involved in one way or another. Did you know…

  1. Founded in 1976, Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) designs, engineers, manufactures and installs processing systems tailored to extract recyclables from the waste stream.
  2. From the start, BHS gained rapid acceptance as a prominent supplier of functional, high quality conveying and screening equipment for the forest products and power generation industries – complete systems that featured the industry’s only inline screening.
  3. The growing demand for advanced solutions to automate the recycling industry prompted the company to apply innovative, patented screening technology to the mixed recyclables and municipal solid waste industry in the early 1980s.
  4. BHS’s equipment isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s enormous in size and the engineering is just short of magical (especially to us non-engineering types). From single-stream and mixed-waste processing systems (recyclables mechanically sorted by type) to Anaerobic Digestion (turning organic waste into electricity, biogas and compost), BHS delivers state-of-the-art systems and equipment, creating profits for its customers.
  5. With decades of experience, BHS is the worldwide leader in the innovative design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of sorting systems and components for the solid waste, recycling, waste-to-energy, and construction and demolition industries.

Cascade is proud to showcase BHS, employing the best expertise in the industry to ensure recyclables are processed efficiently and safely around the globe.

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