When talk of health care reform turns ugly

Whether you support it or scorn it, it’s clear that the new health care reform law has hit a nerve with many Americans. In homes, restaurants, coffee shops and every meeting place in between, heated discussions about the intent and effect of the new bill can be heard. And like a couple of ill-tempered children squaring off on the playground, it’s not always pretty.

But what about the workplace? How far can employees take their political views while on the clock – and what if casual discussions escalate and cross the line?

As a blogger over at so aptly suggests ...

While you can’t request that employees couch all political discussions at work, you can step in if their water-cooler exchanges dampen their productivity or become nasty.

Bottom line: It’s completely unacceptable for any workplace conversation to intensify to the point of throwing around racial slurs or outright threats. More than that, it’s grounds for immediate disciplinary action. If you witness this (or are the target of such behavior), you should report it immediately to a manager or supervisor.

Most employers would be wise to remind their workforce to behave appropriately online, too. Facebook is not the place for respected professionals to “let down their guard” and spout off their political views. Again, it comes down to remaining calm and balanced, which some people struggle with when their political views are challenged. You never know who among your friends (and business associates) on Facebook is following your rants and questioning your integrity as a result.

Have you noticed more health care reform-related discussions in your workplace? Are employees keeping their emotions in check so healthy discussions don’t turn into harmful debates?

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