Anyone in the US who has recently had a work meeting derailed by their coworkers talking politics knows that the elections coming up on November 6 are attracting far more attention and interest than midterm elections normally do. The political environment in the US remains highly charged and polarized, while these elections are seen as having particularly high stakes. Poll watchers are expecting voter turnout to be high, partly helped along by a growing number of employers giving their workers paid time off to vote on Election Day. Beyond that, Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor reports, they are actively encouraging their employees to go out and vote:
At Cava, the Washington D.C.-based chain of Mediterranean fast-casual restaurants, its 1,600 workers will get two hours of paid time off to vote on Election Day this year if they request it in advance, a nationwide perk for its workers. For the first time, Tyson Foods, the meat company, has launched a company-wide voter registration initiative, with many of its plants participating in an effort to register employees and offer details about early voting, absentee ballots and voting locations. Levi Strauss & Co. has named volunteer “voting captains” in each of its offices and distribution centers to hold registration drives and educate workers; it’s also giving employees, including retail workers, paid time off to vote.
Organizations that give their employees time off on Election Day, whether they make it a holiday or simply let staff take a few hours off to vote, do so for a variety of reasons. At some companies, this decision stems from a culture of social responsibility; at others, it may be part of an effort to improve their public image. Though few companies take public positions in favor of a particular candidate or party, still others may be hoping that their employees vote a certain way. It could also help boost employee engagement and perceptions of the organization; a recent study by O.C. Tanner found that US workers who get time off to vote have more positive things to say about their employers than those who don’t, HR Dive reported last week:
After more than 1,000 workers were polled, 62% said their employers give them flexibility to go vote during work hours, but just 34% said their employers give them a specified amount of paid time off to vote, such as two hours. Also, the survey results showed that more salaried workers (69%) got paid time off to vote than hourly workers (53%).
Survey results compared the engagement and well-being levels of those in workplaces that dispensed paid time off for work and those that didn’t. Among the results, 72% of respondents in voting-friendly workplaces said their job offers the flexibility to balance their work and personal lives, compared to 56% of those who aren’t given time during the workday to vote. More than 70% of respondents said they support their organizations’ values, compared with 55% who aren’t given time during the workday to vote. And 65% said they would recommend their organization as a good place to work, compared to just 47% who aren’t given time during the workday to vote.