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I have been looking for similar questions on the exchange but I haven't found anything. Although, I have come across discussions on avoiding discussing political issues.

A colleague of mine has placed political badges for an upcoming referendum in the company canteen promoting one side of the campaign. The referendum is not related to our business (the company doesn't have a stake in the outcome). I don't see any policy in place that this act contravenes. This is, as you can all appreciate, a slightly different situation to avoiding discussion. I eat lunch in the canteen 95% of the time.

Everyone on this exchange knows to follow the rule to avoid talking about politics at work. How is a rational person supposed to react to this? Or rather, my goal is to make it clear to people that this practice does not display good awareness without causing disruption.

100

So someone scattered a few spare badges around... Ignore it and carry on eating. People have probably have had enough of the election, have made their minds up, so these will probably be ignored by everyone.

Once the election has finished, just clear away the trash (if whoever put it there doesn't remove it the day after).

It's just noise, and complaining/doing something about it will probably cause more problems than is necessary.

  • Thanks, I'll take that advice. I know we all make mistakes but it's just annoying when people don't practice, what I think, is basic common sense but choose a personal agenda instead over the community that is an office. I didn't want it to become common practice either but I think this could be an exceptional circumstance. – atw May 25 '18 at 9:35
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    I always decide how to vote by counting the number of bumper stickers for each candidate. :-) – Jay May 25 '18 at 15:36
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    Maybe, after it is over, ask HR to clarify the policy, stating that the display raised questions in your (OP's) mind. Then they will be alert to the issue in the future, or will make the policy clear, but there won't be the stink/resentment about interfering with the efforts in mid-stream. – PoloHoleSet May 25 '18 at 16:51
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Never let go of an opportunity to mind your own business. You have nothing to gain from getting involved in a confrontation over it. Ignore it and move on with your work.

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While the political advertisement may have been put in place by a manager, there is also likely a corporate policy regarding the types of notices placed in view of the employees.

In the US it tends to be a policy to put notices required by the government: Health and welfare, minimum wage and overtime notices, location of fire exits...

As for other notices. The issue for the company is that any notice posted there is viewed that it is endorsed by company. So they have the need to review the items posted in the canteen.

I would make sure that HR is aware of the issue.

  • I know, its a tricky situation. There aren't any guidelines as far as I could see. I am sticking with @Snow's answer because, having reflected, this is a rare circumstance. However, I agree with what you said. – atw May 25 '18 at 11:13
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This falls into the domain of HR.

If HR eats in the same canteen: They know, and will either take care of it or have already decided to ignore it.

If HR doesn't eat in the same canteen, and it bothers you: Inform HR informally. Drop by and speak a single sentence "Just a heads up, in case you don't know yet, someone put up some political flyers in the canteen". Give them enough to inform them but too little to claim you lodged a formal complaint. Then try to disappear quickly and let them figure out what they want to do.

HR will then either ignore it, or drop them in the trash, and at best send out an email that reminds everyone to sign off with them before placing advertisements/flyers anywhere in the office.

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Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this do your company harm?
  • Would the company leadership care?
  • What can you do about it?

Will this do your company harm?

Others have suggested ignoring this. That could be the right thing to do if this is doing no harm. However things like this can cause harm. If the manager is promoting a point of view which may make some employees feel un-welcome then this could do your company harm. This could also be a problem if customers see this and feel you company is not aligned with their values.

Would the company leadership care?

If you think this could do the company harm then ask your self do you think the leadership of the company would support the point of view expressed.

What can you do about it?

You could say its not your job but great employees care about their companies regardless of there job description. However, you don't have to don't anything if it will cause you harm. Is there is someone in a position to do something who you can talk to about this? The person has to be someone you trust to keep you out of this. The person also has to be in a position where they can address the situation. People in leadership or HR positions are good choices.

  • And "why do you care?". Sneak up a badge for the rival position. It's fairly obvious that's the side you're in favour of. – bye May 26 '18 at 20:01
  • An employment contract may contain a provision prohibiting using company resources for personal entrepreneurship. Political campaigning is more likely to count as such than not. If there is such a provision, the leadership may care about this stuff or they wouldn't put it there. – ivan_pozdeev May 26 '18 at 21:48
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    @ivan_pozdeev That may be so, however a lot of companies, especially smaller ones, copy their contracts from standards documents provided by legal counsel or standard HR templates and don't put much thought into the implications of many of the previsions until someone references one during a dispute. – user86764 May 26 '18 at 22:06
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I would do a quick straw poll the next time you're in the canteen. Once there's enough people near you, eating lunch or whatever, get up, point at a political item and ask "Does this kind of thing being here bother anybody? Does anyone feel like they'd rather not have political things in the canteen?"

If you get mostly apathy, then let it go. If half or more grumble about it, let your manager or HR rep know that about half of the people when asked find it annoying, intrusive, bothersome, or whatever. Let them handle it from there. You may have a minority opinion about it, but you won't know unless you ask. If you have the majority on your side, just report that fact to your manager or HR rep then leave it to them to handle.

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