Short answer. Yes. And we’ve got five top tips to help.

Whether you like it or not, 2024 is a big year for elections. Over 64 countries will head to the polls – 49% of the global population can vote on a new leader. It’s likely your workforce will be thinking about their political future this year.

So what? Traditional internal communications and leadership advice has been to stay politically neutral – don’t rock the boat.

That’s probably still sage advice for surviving a family Sunday lunch, but it doesn’t stack up at work. 62% of adults expect CEOs to manage changes occurring in society, not just those occurring in their business. And 82% of employees say it’s important to them that their CEO speaks publicly about job skills of the future. (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2024)

It looks like your employees expect to know where their employer stands.

And…in reality, if your business has a stated purpose or sustainability goals, or if your careers page contains DEI goals or a proactive approach to flexible working, you have taken a political position.

So, you’re probably already doing it – as most of us don’t actually manage to stay neutral at that Sunday lunch. Plus…Edelman also shows us that ‘my employer’ remains the most trusted institution – well ahead of government and the media. So you have a position of power and influence when it comes to these sensitive debates.

With great power comes great responsibility.
But fear not. We’ve got five tips to help you build the right internal communications strategy to survive this election cycle – whatever the global outcomes.

  1. Be authentic and consistent. Start with your existing strategy and build from there. If you’re a bank that promises to support start up businesses, look for SME policies which might affect your customers. Focussing on the areas you already talk about means you still own the story and have a clear purpose for any messaging.
  2. Work with Marketing, Employee Relations, Media and Public Affairs to co-ordinate an approach with the right impact across channels. This is a great time to build relationships, learn from each other, and demonstrate your collective impact to stakeholders.
  3. Know your audience. Always good advice, but particularly important on such emotive issues. You can’t and shouldn’t know every employees’ political leanings, but you can understand the issues that matter to them. Lots of new parents? They might want to see flexible working and affordable childcare moved up the political agenda with vocal support for the human and economic benefits from business leaders.
  4. Be inclusive and open. Taking a position will mean people disagree with you. Stay open, invite constructive questions and discussion and be ready to build on or change your thinking. Nothing builds trust like the meaningful human connections that come from actually being listened to.
  5. Equip your leaders. Some people will feel very uncomfortable talking politics with their team. Consider the support you can offer them – communication is a leadership skill, supporting development in this area is always a good investment.
  6. It’s OK to not know. A bonus 6th point. This can feel like a world filled with people sounding very confident about even the most complex and uncertain subjects. Don’t be pressured into knowing the latest on every election shift or party political policy – it’s always OK to say you’ll get back to someone. To take time to learn and demonstrate curiosity is a super power. And one we’d love to see more political leaders try out as a vote winner.

What approach are you taking to employee engagement and communications during the year of elections?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or want to talk through your strategy we’ve always got the kettle on.