Election day is right around the corner, which means many will be heading to the ballot boxes, waiting in line, and casting their votes for national, state, and local government representatives.

14% of voters didn’t vote in 2016 because they had scheduling conflicts at work. – Pew Research Center

Back in the day, elections in each state could occur at any point in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December. However, as America expanded, this concept became outdated and everyone agreed on the same day – the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

This could be troubling if you’re a business owner who’s staying open on Election Day. I get it – not everybody can have that day off, but just imagine if the entire professional world stayed open and nobody had the chance to vote. Harambe might have won in 2016!

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to both keep your ship sailing and support your employees this election.

Know Your State’s Laws

Every state is different when it comes to what is required from you as an employer. To date, 23 U.S. states require paid time off for employees who want to vote on Election Day. Of course, there are some restrictions and fine print to these laws.

If your business is in one of the states that doesn’t require time off, that doesn’t mean you should cackle maniacally and keep your employees chained to their desks.

When it comes to basic human rights and decency, you should never impede on someone’s right to make their voice heard on Election Day. Accommodate your employees to the best of your ability and avoid sending off dictator vibes. After all, that doesn’t really make a lot of sense, does it?

Let People Leave Early or Flex Hours

Vote Donuts

Even if you’re not in a state that requires time off for Election Day, you should still be cooperative with your employees. Be flexible and work with everyone to find a solution that meets both their democratic needs and your bottom line.

Keep in mind your employees work hard and they have families and social lives. If they have to come in on a weekend to make up for the lost time, do the decent thing and at least provide donuts or lunch.

Keep Politics Out of the Office

Jaws Voting T-Shirt

Water cooler chatter may inevitably stray toward the upcoming election and what that could mean for the future. Do your best to keep that out of the environment as everybody is bound to have a different opinion. 

Still, that’s easier said than done. People are excited, and this election has the power to completely change their way of living. A good way to keep everything light and fluffy is by organizing a fun distraction. Themed potlucks or branded t-shirts or jackets in honor of Election Day are a couple of good options!

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Out of Office to Vote

It could be that you have clients with particular needs or tasks with certain deadlines. In that case, just make sure to tell the people involved what’s going on. For instance:  “Sharon ran out for an hour to vote, but she’ll be back at about 11:00. In the meantime, I can send that document over to you, no problem.”

This works better when you have a strong team that’s willing to leave the safety of their desk and help out their co-workers. That kind of team isn’t going to happen overnight, so make sure you emphasize the importance of good teamwork throughout the year.

Send an Email with Useful Tips

Election Day comes only during even-numbered years. Some of your employees are likely to put some of the details out of mind. Save them the Googling trouble and increase productivity by putting all the useful info in plain sight, including how to find their polling place and what they should remember to bring.

Here are some good resources to get you started

There might come a time where Election Day is a federal holiday and everybody will have paid time off to go vote. Until then, it’s crucial as a business owner to accommodate your employees and give them the time they need to go to their designated polling place. It could mean all the difference in the upcoming election.

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