Tips for Talking With Employees About the Shift in Power

In the wake of the presidential election, many companies are asking, “should I be communicating proactively with my workforce about the election results? And how can I do that in a non-partisan way?” In today’s world of growing populism, employees hold tremendous sway over outside opinions, so it’s critical to engage your internal constituencies with the same rigor as you do customers, elected officials and reporters. While every organization’s situation is distinct, and what is appropriate for one culture may differ markedly from another, here are six tips for keeping your workforce engaged during these uncertain times:

1. Refocus attention on your customers. Re-orient employee attention on customer care and delivering against business objectives. It will take weeks, perhaps months, to grasp the real effects of the change in presidential administration, so this is not the time to panic or give in to distraction. Remember: Starbucks* is still serving coffee, automotive companies are still making cars, and your employees need to continue delivering to your customers.

2. Emphasize that amid all the uncertainty, your company isn’t changing. Your core values and your mission remain unchanged. Your existing commitments to diversity, open-mindedness and the inclusion of differing viewpoints aren’t going anywhere. Full stop.

3. Make clear that all-but-certain volatility requires working together. It’s necessary that everyone listen intently to customers, consumers and the marketplace; to be nimble; and to course-correct quickly if necessary. Reinforce that lines of dialogue are open. Ask employees to offer their suggestions and counsel for ensuring and communicating such collegiality.

4. Be sure to create and provide a safe environment for employees to talk about their concerns. You’re likely to see questions from employees from various affinity and employee interest groups. Be sure that HR teams and managers are prepared to listen and respond to what could be difficult questions with empathy.

5. Communicate that the entire organization must help heal wounds sparked by the divisive election. The business community has an opportunity to lead in helping bring together Americans from all walks of life. Your company and its employees can help calm the resentment by communicating the need to be fellow patriots and to “be of” the community.

6. Finally, stress that you will continue to help address societal challenges. Employees should know that leadership won’t abandon its efforts to help solve very significant local and global societal and economic issues.

Tamara Snyder, executive vice president, Employee Engagement.

*Edelman client