• Melanie Koerperich

Politics in the Workplace: Is there truly a place for it?

I used to be one of those people that claimed there is no room for politics in the workplace. Recently, I have had to take a step back from that position and now must confess that I had several ill-conceived notions about this topic. I’ve come to the realization that there has to be some room for politics in the workplace in light of recent events. However, not in the way that we would typically think. There is a fine line between discussing political policy that could have a direct impact on your job and discussing political affiliations or political candidates.

Not only should you stay up to speed on what stances candidates have taken in the past and their plans for the future, but you should be finding out how the policies and reform proposed will affect your job directly. Let’s look at an example to clarify a bit further.

Politics To Increase Minimum Wage

One example is the increase in the minimum wage. Everyone who works a job paying minimum wage is in support of increasing the amount of pay for the work they do. Quite frankly I’ve talked to many people who are in favor of an increase and work median income jobs. But, we have to consider how it may affect our current job market or even more specifically our own individual jobs.

Each business has only so much money that they can spend on payroll while still turning a profit, right? That’s not going to change with an increase in the minimum wage. So what happens to a company that is budgeted to pay five employees minimum wage and that pay is increased to almost double its original amount even over a three-year period? Will the company cut one or two of those minimum wage positions to make their budget? Let’s also consider the employees of this same company who have put in their time and have three or four years of experience but are still making the same as an employee on their first day of work with no experience. Will the company be able to afford an increase in the minimum wage and still be able to increase salaries for their experienced staff?

Politics and Small Businesses

Most small businesses start their staff with a lower wage but as the business grows so do the salaries. Will they be able to afford the staff they need to be successful? Will an increased minimum wage really be conducive to the boom of small startups we have become so accustomed to? I ask these questions because there is no hard and true answer here. However, these are the things I think truly do have a place for discussion in our workplaces. We should all be educated on the actual effect these political policies and reforms may have on us as a country and as individuals.

Examples of instances that politics do not have a place in the workplace would be trying to convince someone that the candidate you plan on voting for is the right candidate and/or backing political stances based on morals, religious affiliation, color, or race. Here’s the bottom line, if there is no direct connection between the issue at hand and your job, it should not be discussed at work. A word of caution; if you are not sure if something has a direct effect on your job then don’t discuss it in the workplace at all.

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