12 Minute Read

Give Voting a Chance

Y’all know I have no issue getting political. Politics is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. Sound like any other profession you know?

Back when I used to write the #6Things, I frequently got angry responses or “more power to you” notes. As you are undoubtedly aware, the world has only gotten crazier since then (and HOW!)

The partners and I are in a unique position because while our agency caters primarily to HR and Workforce Solutions and Tech, we also have an amazing group of employees to look after and provide for.

That’s why RBM is giving our people the day off on November 8 (Election Day here in the U.S.) to take time to vote.

  • Yes, even to the Brancher in Germany.
  • Yes, even to those who already voted via early ballot.
  • Yes, even to Branchers who may vote differently than I would.
  • Yes, even though we’re drowning in work and there are lots of holidays coming up.
  • Yes, even though it will cost us roughly $7000. What am I, a Rockefeller?
As we debate the merits of paid time off for employees to vote, we must remember the words of Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Click To Tweet

Reasons to Give Employees Election Day Off to Take Time to Vote

It (should be) a national holiday!

Look, it should have already been mandated for employers to do this thing, but since it isn’t in most places, do the right thing. If there’s one thing that Americans love, it’s taking a day off from work to celebrate something. So go ahead and give your employees the day off to vote. They’ll appreciate it.

It’s good for morale.

Giving your employees the day off to vote will do wonders for their morale. They’ll feel like you care about their civic duty and that you’re willing to give them the time they need to fulfill it. Plus, talk about being a great leader. Civics is not only woefully misunderstood but frustratingly absent from many public school curricula. Being a great leader means you step in to fill that gap when and where you can.

Our country is in trouble today, but we can change that by giving employees time off to vote and educate themselves about the issues that matter most. Click To Tweet

It shows you’re an employer of choice.

Giving your employees the day off to vote shows that you’re an employer of choice. You’re showing that you care about your employees’ rights and are willing to accommodate their needs. RBM has always been exceedingly proud of the flexibility, benefits, and compensation we offer our Branchers, and it has more than paid for itself in recruitment, retention, and hiring.

It boosts employee engagement.

Giving your employees the day off to vote boosts employee engagement. When employees feel like their voices are being heard and that their opinions matter, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work. This leads to better performance and higher productivity. Worried they’ll just take the day and not vote? Simple, just have them take a selfie with their ballot, polling place, or ‘I Voted’ sticker as “proof.”

It’s the law (for a good reason).

In some states, giving your employees the day off (or part of the day off) to vote is actually required by law. So if you want to avoid any potential penalties, it’s best to just give them the day off. A total of 31 states allow employees to vote by absentee or mail-in ballots, even if an absentee ballot is available. In many cases, these laws (often requiring up to four hours of leave time) kick in only when polling hours and work schedules conflict.

The suffragettes fought hard for the right to vote - and they won. We must stand up and fight for our rights as well if we want to see real political change in this country. Click To Tweet

You’re impacting (positively) your talent pool.

Giving your employees the day off to vote is good for business. When businesses support voter turnout, it strengthens democracy and creates a more informed electorate. This is good for everyone involved in the political process. It never ceases to amaze me that many companies fail to see the connection between a well-educated, well-fed, relaxed, and civic-minded community and the hires they make at all other times of the year.

I am convinced; now what?

Well, keep in mind some of the laws that may apply to your employees require (or allow the employer to require) notice (sometimes in written format.) So the VERY first thing you need to do is decide on the policy.

Larger businesses are sometimes required to have a policy in place to give employees time to vote. Still, smaller companies may have skated past it since many laws don’t apply unless you have a certain number of employees (which in other news, is total bullshit because nearly half of the workforce is employed by small businesses AND according to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), small businesses of 500 employees or fewer make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and 99.7% of firms with paid employees. Of the new jobs created between 1995 and 2020, small businesses accounted for 62%—12.7 million compared to 7.9 million by large enterprises,) but I digress. Soooooo…

  • Step 1 is to create a policy. Make it super clear and specific, and state any exceptions.

Here is ours:

In the United States, Election Day is the day set by law for the general elections of federal public officials. It is statutorily set as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” or “the first Tuesday after November 1”. Red Branch Media provides an additional paid day off to all Exempt employees on  Election Day in a federal election year. Non-exempt Employees will receive pay as if they had worked their normally-scheduled day.

Employees must provide picture evidence of voting (photo at the voting booth, photo with an absentee ballot, etc.) however, the photo should not include any identifying information of their actual vote, including actual voting choices, party affiliation, etc. In the absence of photographic evidence, Employees may choose to use their accrued vacation time, personal time, or take the day off unpaid.

  • Step 2 is to let your employees know the policy exists in time for them to arrange the time to do so.
If you care about your fellow Americans and our democracy, then you need to do everything you can to help increase voter turnout - including giving your employees time off to vote. Click To Tweet
  • Step 3 is to offer alternative ideas for those who have already voted or are ineligible to vote.

Be sure to offer some non-partisan ideas, like volunteering at a polling place, taking a group of registered voters to their polling place, offering to drive folks to vote, or writing postcards.

  • Step 4 is to follow through.

For example, we give the entire day off to vote (or support voting in some way), but we DO need a selfie and permission to use that selfie on social media. If we don’t get it, those hours come out of PTO.

  • Step 5 is DON’T tell your people how to vote. However, not a damn soul can keep me from saying who and what I will vote for. You can probably tell, just based on who I am but:
    • I’m a woman, so I will be voting for a woman’s right to choose.
    • I’m a proud American, so I will be voting for democratic voting rights.
    • I’m a military brat, so I will be voting for those who do NOT attempt to overthrow the government.
    • I have children in school, so I will vote for those who will protect them from guns in schools.
    • I am a business owner, so I will vote for those who send the ladder back down once they are successful.
    • I value education and believe it should be available to everyone, so I will vote for the party that offers that.
    • I am a daughter with parents who are getting older, so I will vote for the party that will not rip social security and medicare away from them.
    • I am a mother, so I will not vote for a party that doesn’t value families and attempts to keep them in poverty.
    • I am a global citizen, so I won’t vote for those who would put us at odds with the world.
    • I am a human that is alive, so I will vote for the party that supports SCIENCE.
By empowering your employees with paid time off to vote, you are not just helping them exercise their civic duty - you are playing an important role in strengthening our democracy for all citizens across the US. Click To Tweet

But you do you, boo.

Voting has always been an incredibly important part of our country’s history. And for many of us, it hasn’t been an option for all that long. How you approach it matters. Your people are watching. What will you do on November 8?