TABOO DISCUSSIONS & HOW THEY IMPACT COMPANY CULTURE
We at the Nevada Association of Employers extend our deepest condolences to the victims and families of gun violence in Pittsburg, PA and Matthews, NC.
As Nevada employers and employees reflect on the increasing gun violence in the United States, it is tempting to discuss causes for the violence and potential solutions to curbing it. Employers and employees alike may be wondering, “Are there still taboo discussion topics at work?” In this article, we discuss some good rules of thumb regarding taboo discussions at work and how a clearly written employee handbook can keep everyone on the same page.
Taboo Discussions That Impact Company Culture
One of the mistakes that Nevada employers and employees make regarding workplace discussions is to assume that free speech can and should be exercised to its fullest extent at all times. The distinction often overlooked is between can and should. Just because an action may be legally permissible does not mean that it should be carried out while in the work place.
The topics of gun violence and gun control are especially divisive right now. Although it is not illegal to discuss topics such as these while at work, strong opinions and strong emotions about these topics can lead to serious conflict in the workplace.
With a tumultuous political climate and opinions overflowing on all the social media platforms, it can be especially tempting to offer what one feels are productive solutions to the ailments of our country. Regardless of the validity of our opinions on these divisive topics, they can and should be avoided while in the workplace.
Even if it seems as though many, if not all, of the members of an organization feel similarly about a given topic, that should be not viewed as a green light to engage in open discourse about the topic while at work.
Every debate has two or more sides. As members of an organization engage in debate while at work, it is inevitable for one ore more parties to become alienated. A disagreement about some headline topic can quickly turn from civil to heated.
If you, the employer, hears of taboo discussions happening in your workplace, you can open the door for your employees to discuss their opinions after and away from work. This can be a good opportunity for your employees to bond without affecting their work duties.
Consequences of Workplace Conflict
When employees become engaged in nonwork-related conflict at work, a number of undesired consequences often ensue. Though this list is not exhaustive, it’s easy to see why actions should be taken to avoid these consequences.
- Reduced productivity
- Passive aggressive or other retaliatory behavior
- Uncomfortable or tense work environment
- Grudges or other long-lasting animosity
- Exchange of profanity or other inappropriate language
How to Create an Employee Handbook Section on Taboo Topics
Nevada employers might strain themselves while attempting to list out all the topics that are not permitted to be discussed while employees are at work. Rather than employers striving towards an exhaustive list of banned topics such as gun violence, religion, money, etc., it may be more advantageous and practical to describe the types of discussion that are not permitted.
For example, verbiage in the company handbook sample can encourage employees to take ownership of the discretion required for a smooth workplace. Employers should clearly explain to employees that employees are responsible for determining which topics are likely to incite conflict at work. Encouraging employees to self-moderate their speech can be more effective than creating opportunities for loopholes when exhaustive lists are used.
The Nevada Association of Employers has years of experience in designing and writing employee handbooks. We realize that the process of creating and / or updating an employee handbook can be daunting. You are not alone!
Membership to NAE is affordable and provides you with unlimited access to our team of HR experts. Our HR professionals have experience writing employee handbooks for professions of all types. The ‘taboo discussion’ section of an employee handbook for a political thinktank is likely to differ from the handbook used at a Catholic high school.
Regardless of the type of institution you operate, we are here to help. Give us a call at (775) 329-4241 and we’ll get to work on your handbook today!
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