Political allowances Featured

1:15pm EDT August 30, 2004
In a few months, another presidential election will be decided.

With a 3-year-old son, we watch a lot of television for children, and I've noticed that one network, Nickelodeon, is encouraging children to learn more about the political system and to vote as an adult.

When I was growing up, we were taught the importance of voting both at school and at home. But as adults, we can lose sight of the impact of our vote amid our busy day-to-day work and personal lives, especially during a nonpresidential election year. Despite the fact that the polls are open flexible hours, it can still be hard, especially for younger employees not used to voting, and for parents, to make it to the polls to vote.

That's where employers can help by making it as easy as possible for employees to have the time during the business day to vote. That doesn't mean closing for the day or driving employees to polling locations, but there are things employers can do to encourage employees to vote.

* Post signs a few weeks before the election reminding employees to vote.

* Advise managers and supervisors to give employees extra time during breaks or lunch hours if needed, and let employees know they have that time.

* Remind employees during meetings of the upcoming election and the importance of voting.

* Have interdepartmental contests to see which department has the most voting employees, and give them a reward, like pizza.

* Stay bipartisan -- the goal is to get employees to be more active politically, not twist their arms to vote according to your standards.

I'm sure there are more creative ideas that can be implemented. Developing employees' political consciences is not the job of the employer, but creating an atmosphere that is flexible and encouraging is a great way to plant that seed.