For the small business owner, the election season can bring a host of challenges to the workplace. This is especially true when one manages a diverse community where employees may differ in age, experience, political, religious and social views. And in light of the current election, the risk of rising tensions should be on the radar of every informed workplace leader.

What’s the best approach to dealing with interoffice banter? Should offices outlaw all talk as a whole? To help solve these difficult questions, I’ve outlined a few tips you can adopt at your workplace. While they may not all be right for your community, taking preemptive measures will always work in your favor.

8 policies to consider:

  1. Turn the TV off

This easy step can go a long way in helping all members of your community feel safe at work during the election season. It’s common for lunch spaces to have TV’s with background shows playing. Do what you can to make sure the shows that air in your office are free from one political view from the other.

  1. Act the part

As one of the leaders of your company, model the type of behavior that you’d like your employees to follow. This may mean refraining from political conversations during the working day.

  1. Create an office policy

Whether that means saying ‘no’ to political stickers or mugs at work or asking your employees to keep the political chit chat to a minimum, creating and communicating a policy can help set the tone for a tense election season.

  1. Do your research

Before you put policies in place, it’s a good idea to revisit the actions you’re able to enforce. Depending on whether you work in a public or private sector industry will affect the rights you’re limited to addressing.

  1. Discuss anti-harassment policies

While you may be limited to eliminating all forms of political discourse at your office, you’re still responsible for keeping the peace. It may be a good time to revisit the policies affecting harassment. Talk with your employees on the procedures in place, including if they hear a political feud or find themselves coerced into engaging in such dialogue. Reporting these incidents to HR should be high on their list.

  1. Keep your ear to the ground

Political conversations have the power to derail employees from their productivity levels at work. They also have the power to cause tension and arguments that are not easily or quickly resolved. Ask your management team to spend their time engaged in the workplace office with their ears to the ground. While you may think the entire office is chatting about the current election, it’s more likely that you’ll find two or three individuals who continue to open the dialogue.

  1. Hire a consultant

Hiring a professional to help when tension runs especially high can be the most effective option for your workplace. Utilize the experience and insight that a consultant brings. Remember, it’s your job to keep your workplace running in the most efficient way possible.

Need a consultant for your company? Check out Koppekin Consulting, Inc. for all of your employment challenges.