Number of the Day: Post-election communication

58%: Percentage of employers that had no communication or preparation plan to mitigate culture disruptions after the election

Following a tumultuous week of waiting for the presidential election results, Americans headed into the work week with some clarity, after major news organizations projected former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris the victors over the weekend. But, President Trump is fighting the results in court, setting up what could be more uncertainty in a deeply divided America–which is bound to spill into the workplace.

Related: COVID, healthcare will be top of mind for HR with Biden presidency

According to research in late October from the Institute for Corporate Productivity, nearly half of employers polled were expecting at least a moderate disruption from the election on their workplace cultures. Specifically, 36% predicted a moderate impact, 11% a high impact and 1% a very high impact. Just 2% of those polled said they didn’t expect any impact.

However, 58% of employers said they either had no post-election plan, or didn’t know of one, to communicate with employees.

What it means to HR leaders

While employers surveyed said they would rely on their codes of conduct and other communication policies to guard against incivility in the workplace leading up to the election, fewer were ready to mitigate such behavior after the election. Specifically, 32% had no communication plan or preparations to handle potential post-election culture disruptions, while 26% didn’t know of any actions.

Of those that did intend to take specific actions, 22% are expanding and communicating about mental and emotional health offerings via their employee-assistance programs, while 20% planned post-election messaging from the CEO urging workforce unity. Just 3% will have a post-election forum or town hall to let employees express themselves.

Lorrie Lykins, vice president of research at i4cp, notes that the organization’s previous research has found that, when stress and anxiety are high, employees expect leaders to set the tone.

“People look to their leaders for signals especially in times of uncertainty–chief among them is the message that it’s OK to not be OK right now,” she says.

In addition to conveying that message, as the post-election period drags on, coupled with the pandemic, leaders should keep an eye out for signs of trouble among their workers: difficulty concentrating, feeling stuck, impatience with colleagues, detachment from the work and team members, and sudden quietness from people who are usually not quiet, among many others.

Related: COVID, healthcare will be top of mind for HR with Biden presidency

“The most effective thing a leader can do is acknowledge what is happening,” she says, “that what we are experiencing is not normal and that we should keep talking about how to manage through it, in whatever forms that may take.

Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at