Thousands of companies have recognized that helping their employees vote in an election year is an important benefit. It is good corporate citizenship. It is also good business.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines,” said the Global Strategy Group Business & Politics Study before the last major election in 2020. “There is a reward for companies that take action on political and social issues and a penalty for inaction.”
In today’s polarized environment, employees and consumers have high expectations for companies. They want them to declare themselves on social issues. Indeed, people trust companies more than government, media and many other American institutions. Quorum’s State of Government Affairs Survey asked professionals what their companies will do in the 2022 election. More than 80% said they would get involved and 41% said they will help facilitate voting.
“Americans have an outsized appetite to take action on issues and drive change,” the Global Strategy Group study said. “They expect brands to do the same—and to engage with them as consumers and employees.”
How Companies Conduct GOTV Work
For companies that want to play an active, nonpartisan role helping employees vote in this year’s election, there is much that can be done. Here are some examples:
- Provide Time Off to Vote. Many organizations give employees time off to vote, or adopt flexible scheduling to make voting easier. There are organizations that can help. Time to Vote, a group of companies that facilitates employee voting, now has almost 2,000 members. Electionday.org, a similar organization, has more than 1,000 companies signed up.
- Launch a GOTV Election Center. A GOTV Election Center functions as a one-stop resource for employees to obtain election information on your website or intranet. Employees can register to vote, check their status, get candidate information and do other things that facilitate participation. A center like this is especially helpful because it can adjust automatically for the redistricting that is taking place this year. The center can be customized to match your brand and provide metrics to show how your program is working.
- Supply Key Dates and Information. Providing accurate information on dates and deadlines, as well as links to election resources, is helpful to your employees. The extent of your efforts may be determined by the size of your organization. A company operating in one state will have an easier time than one operating nationwide. Start small, practice the art of the possible and grow from there.
- Email or Text Updates. Reminding employees of dates and deadlines encourages participation. Dedicated reminders, as well as mentions in established newsletters and other communiques, are generally unobtrusive and often appreciated. Automated systems, however, should be monitored carefully. Election logistics, such as the location of polling places, change frequently and automated systems do not always keep pace. Make sure that systems are monitored and that information is checked for accuracy.
- Launch a ‘Pledge to Vote’ Campaign. One good way to engage employees is with a campaign asking them to sign a petition pledging that they will vote on Election day. It signals you care about the election and that you want your audience to participate. On Election Day, you can highlight those who fulfilled their pledge on social channels.
- Hold an Election Event. Election-related events can inject fun into your program, even if they take place online. It can be as simple as a conference call to allow people to ask questions or as advanced as inviting an analyst or candidates from both parties to speak. Gathering employees around the election, even virtually, makes the program more personal and therefore more engaging.
- Provide a Voter Bill of Rights. A document that tells voters exactly what their rights are in a particular state can be extremely helpful. This can cover everything from getting help in the voting booth to when polls open and close. Here’s an example. Just be sure the information is current and accurate.
How GOTV Work Helps Your Company
Many companies have shied away from elections in years past, fearful that they would alienate employees or customers. But today’s climate has put companies in a very different position. The expectations today emphasize involvement.
Nonpartisan, information-based get-out-the-vote programs are good business, for many different reasons. They allow companies to engage their workforce in new ways, transforming standard corporate communication into a trusted source of information on important and timely issues. Your company’s message becomes relevant beyond work.
Over time, a company that is facilitating civic participation and building trust is also creating a group of advocates. These advocates will eventually be willing to provide testimonials, contact public officials and participate in other ways that are valuable to your company.
In addition, GOTV programs have become part of strong corporate citizenship. They show authentic civic engagement, provide a valuable employee benefit and fit nicely with the initiatives most companies already have in place to promote Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. By contrast, ignoring an election that dominates the national conversation is arguably more risky.
“People need information they can trust and employers are extremely credible,” said Jeb Ory, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Capitol Canary. “Companies are increasingly getting involved in public policy, including social issues and elections. They are not partisan. They are not political. They are simply helping people participate in the process.”