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WSU Newsline: Presidential politics can create workplace friction
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 2:06 PM

The scripts are available for printing and for sound bite identification.

Go to http://www.wichita.edu/newsline to get the current Wichita State University Newsline. If you cannot access the Newsline at the Web address above, contact Joe Kleinsasser at (316) 978-3013 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu. Newsline cuts may be edited to suit your needs. If you have additional questions for Bereman after listening to the WSU Newsline, please contact her at (316) 978-6492 or nancy.bereman@wichita.edu.

Background:

Presidential politics can create a certain amount of workplace friction. Nancy Bereman, a specialist in human resources management at Wichita State University, looks at the delicate balance between free speech and workplace decorum.

Voice wrap:

Announcer: In a presidential election year, it's not uncommon for employees and employers to differ on which candidate is best for the country. Nancy Bereman, a specialist in human resource management at Wichita State University, offers a solution to the dilemma when a co-worker wants you to support another candidate.

Bereman: "Well, one idea is for you to simply tell your co-worker that you have different views and that you feel that their views, or any political views in the workplace, aren't really appropriate."

Announcer: Bereman says it's a good idea for management to issue a broad statement that the organization has a professional work environment that respects individual feelings and the convictions of others. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1

Bereman says businesses have found three topics to be problematic in the workplace. The sound bite is 19 seconds and the outcue is "from each party."

Bereman: "Historically, businesses have found three topics rather problematic in the workplace — sex, religion and politics. In the current political season, many people have strong feelings supporting one or another of the political parties and, in this primary season, one candidate from each party."

Sound bite #2

Bereman says there's a fine line between freedom of speech concerns and maintaining workplace decorum. The sound bite is 12 seconds and the outcue is "workplace decorum."

Bereman: "The workplace issues, well, there is a fine line that needs to be negotiated between freedom of speech concerns and concerns for maintaining workplace decorum."

Sound bite #3

Bereman looks at a tool to maintain workplace decorum in the midst of politically active employees. The sound bite is 16 seconds and the outcue is "are inappropriate."

Bereman: "One possible tool that can be used by an employer is a well crafted e-mail and voice-mail policy that specifies that activities that improperly utilize company equipment are inappropriate."

Sound bite #4

Bereman says a broad statement from management can be helpful. The sound bite is 18 seconds and the outcue is "for organizations."

Bereman: "A broad statement from management, that the organization has a professional work environment where respect for individual feelings and the convictions of others, is really a good idea for organizations."

Sound bite #5

Bereman says it's not a good idea for managers to rally the troops behind a particular candidate. The sound bite is 29 seconds and the outcue is "a bad idea."

Bereman: "In my opinion, no. In any workplace, even if there seems to be a general consensus that one candidate or another candidate is the choice, the likelihood is that there is always going to be at least one individual who is offended or is not supportive of that particular candidate. So in general, I think it's a bad idea."

Sound bite #6

Bereman says the good news is that, after the elections are over, the workplace can return to normal. The sound bite is 21 seconds and the outcue is "calmness in the workplace."

Bereman: "The good news about the United States election process is that it does get finished, at least on a periodic basis and, after the elections are finished, most people are able to move forward and return to a state of calmness in the workplace."

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Contact: Nancy Bereman, (316) 978-6492 or nancy.bereman@wichita.edu.