2020 has been an unprecedented year. With the confluence of a global pandemic, economic upheaval, civil unrest, and a national election, it is no wonder that 77 percent of American adults recently surveyed by the Harris Poll said that they are worried about our country’s future. An additional 71 percent said that “ this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.” The survey also reported that 68 percent of those asked say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life.
Is this stress impacting you or your organization? As business leaders, we must take steps to alleviate the stress that we are feeling as well as to help ease the negative impact our employees may be feeling. The following are tips to help reduce election anxiety:
Proactive Communication. Just like in so many other times of crisis, the key to helping employees navigate this stressful time is clear and concise communication from the top. Before Election Day, consider issuing a company-wide message that acknowledges the challenging times that we are facing while reiterating your organization’s core values. Perhaps more importantly, don’t remain silent after November 3; the election and its aftermath will need to be addressed in a timely manner.
Promote Civil Discourse. Beyond corporate communication, promote civil discourse in the workplace by focusing on these three points; awareness, training, and taking all matters seriously. Please see my article about how to tackle incivility in the workplace for more details.
Be a Positive Role Model. Business leaders can promote a culture of respect and understanding by practicing active listening and by modeling appropriate behaviors. An acknowledgement that people feel passionately about a myriad of issues is essential, as is showing empathy—this is especially true after the election is over.
Rely on Policy. Before and after the election is a good time to revisit and discuss your organization’s policies regarding harassment, diversity and inclusion, anti-bullying, etc. Remind employees of the importance of these policies as a way to protect all employees.
Encourage Everyone to Vote. Encourage everyone within your organization to make sure that their voice is heard by voting.
Take Care of Yourself and Your Employees. In an article published earlier this month, the American Psychological Association (APA) offered several scientific-based approaches to help individuals manage their stress levels leading up to (and beyond) the 2020 election. Here is a summary of their recommendations:
- Uncertainty is stressful—focus on what you can control.
- Take frequent breaks from the 24-hour news cycle.
- Engage in activities that are meaningful to you.
- Stay socially connected and active.
- Accept the reality that the election may not be determined on Election Day.
If you are feeling anxious about how the upcoming election and its aftermath may impact your organization, please contact me today. I am happy to discuss your particular situation and ways to help guide your organization forward during these challenging times.