When assessing possible risks that could affect people at the workplace, we often consider political disruptions as distant eventualities. In other words, we solely hope to work in an environment that is free from external disruptions, much less such as are occasioned by political violence.

However, events in the recent past have shown that political instability is a reality that we should acknowledge, learn to confront, and prepare to sail through. In Kenya, for example, when elections results are contested, the outcome is usually a prolonged period of political instability that affects businesses and people’s wellbeing. This is not different from other areas across the world when conflict erupts, such as is the ongoing case in Russia and Ukraine. So, how do you support the employees and get your support too in getting out of the woods? Here are ways to remain productive and healthy during seasons of political turmoil.

Create a safe space for the expression of diverse views

Quite often, the workplace will have people with diverse political opinions who pledge allegiance to different political persuasions. On the occasion political dynamics in the country cause divisions at the workplace, the advisable step to take is to create a space where all views are accommodated healthily. The political beliefs might differ, escalating tensions among workers. Others may feel emotionally injured. But when there is a healthy space where people openly express views and talk about how they feel, you can spot the affected and recommend help to maintain their productivity.

Inform employees of possible outcomes

Political unrest makes it impossible to operate normally. Employees who may reside where the tensions are high and violence is being experienced will not only be affected emotionally but also in the manner, they operate at work. In such difficult circumstances, you may give them leave from work to allow the situation to get back to normal. This will minimize risks of attack and also ensure their security.

Besides, if the disruptions prolong to a point where normal operations are paralyzed, you might be forced to close shop until the situation comes back to normal. Drastic changes at the workplace might affect the emotional and financial wellbeing of your workers and may affect you too. You should anticipate such outcomes, and communicate your resolutions to your employees in advance.

For example, if you are forced to close down the business, you might slash their salaries and perhaps send them on unpaid leave. Before taking such measures, discuss with your workers and express your concerns so that the decision you make will be collective and acceptable to everyone.

Develop expression policies

Besides creating a safe environment for everyone to comfortably express what they feel, it is imperative to make clear the boundaries of expression on such matters as could divide the people. During such high tension moments when employees take opposing sides, developing expression policies becomes paramount in safeguarding the work environment from political toxicity and ensuring people interact respectfully and productively, their differences in opinions notwithstanding.

Research shows that over 75% of employees acknowledge that expression policies are important guides in maintaining an enabling working environment. Hence, you should make the policies as to specific and concise as possible. For example, make it clear what you expect from your workforce such as mutual respect.

Also, specify the language and behavior that is prohibited, which could fuel disagreements and affect productivity. Communicate the disciplinary action that might be taken in the event one breaks the policy. When the expression borders are well defined, everyone at the workplace understands what is expected of them, and therefore, that minimizes cases of divisions.

Develop an action plan

Desperate times call for desperate measures. In times when normal working is disrupted, you will be required to design an action plan to salvage both the employees, yourself, and the business. This will demand that you take bold measures. They may include acknowledging the impact and prevalence of the crisis and availing such resources as counseling for the sake of employees’ mental wellbeing.

Similarly, you might be required to minimize spending and cut costs to save money to keep the business operational. In the event the crisis persists, let your employees know that you could take extreme measures that may include slashing their salaries and allowances until the political climate settles. Preparing them for such outcomes and allowing open dialogue and exchange of ideas will help sail through the unlikely times with ease.

Take a break

You may be too involved in settling things and helping your employees to a point of burnout. While it might be difficult to be absent during a crisis, you should ensure that you take good care of your health too. Ensure to seek assistance from your counselor or someone to whom you can express your situation openly.

The reassurance that you are on the right track and that you are not the problem is crucial in keeping you going. If possible, take a few days from work to rest, rejuvenate and re-strategize. This will ensure that you are not overwhelmed by the events and remain resilient through the tough times.

In a nutshell

Lessons from the past indicate that political uncertainties have a far-reaching impact on business and the workforce. To live through the political unrest and successfully keep the business, it is crucial to develop an action plan to implement during the tough times. Besides, involving your workforce in every decision you are set to make and which will impact them will only make things better for all.


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