Workplace: Elected Officials

January each year is a time of swearing in newly elected officials. Therefore, January is a good time for the discussion of whether elected officials should be asked to or expected to live up to the same standards as employees. Case in point: employee handbooks govern behavior and provide consequences in companies, non-profits and government settings. Today’s question: Should elected officials be subject to the same rules as employees? I say YES.

Yes, because someone receiving a check from the same organization as employees should be subject to the same rules, behavioral expectations, codes of conduct, and employee handbooks. For example:

  • Drug testing. Government and non-government jobs involving driving, heavy equipment, dangerous equipment, and other work environment conditions require drug testing to maintain licensure and therefore to maintain a job. Included in the YES, is a YES for elected officials to pass drug tests before being sworn into office and again before every filing to run for office. Elected officials should model the same positive behaviors that employees are expected to conform to every day.
  • Behavior. If an employee can’t do or create the following situations, why should an elected official be able to? I say: “They shouldn’t be allowed to.”
    • Harassment/bullying. Don’t do it. If you do it, expect to be held accountable. Offenders deserve to be warned and counselled toward better behavior. If the behavior doesn’t stop, follow human resources policy for dismissal or termination of employment/elected status.
    • Sexual harassment. Same as above.
    • Hostile work environment creation.  Same as above.
    • Dress codes. Follow the dress code. Everyone. Dress codes help us to maintain safe and professional work environments and to provide great customer/client/constituent services.
    • Embezzlement/misuse of funds. This is a crime. Employees are fired for it; and often prosecuted for it. Volunteers are often prosecuted for embezzlement too. Elected officials should also be held accountable and lose their positions; be removed from office and a replacement made.
    • Permissible work requests and non-permissible. Over the last many decades, the expectations of some managers, bosses, and elected officials grew to include asking employees and interns to take care of personal items and errands that are not a part of a company/government job description. Some organizations and government entities have clarified what permissible and non-permissible requests are. If you are being asked to do things that don’t fit your job, are personal in nature, or are inappropriate: take action. Talk to your human resources contact to learn more.
  • Honesty and Ethics. Arguably, this is a topic that could fill a book or two and has. All people, managers, employees, executives, leaders, and elected officials would serve each other and us better when living up to ethical standards that include honesty, respect, and integrity.
  • Lawsuits. How can an elected official serve constituents when involved in a lawsuit…in another state even? Yes, this really happens. Is it okay? In what situations do you see it as okay, or not okay?

Today’s call to action: hold elected officials to the same standards as employees are expected to live up to and are held accountable for upholding.

Workplace: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore    what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. – Jana

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