Workplace controversy can cause ripple effects through an entire organisation, particularly when it plays out in public. When you’re stuck in the middle, what’s the best way to respond?
Humans are creatures of habit, and most of us would admit to savouring our routines— from that first morning coffee run, to daily tasks that give us satisfaction, and let us leave the office with a sense of accomplishment.
Which is why, when new practices or policies are brought in, changes in management style occur, or some other factor shakes things up, we can feel like we’ve been thrown through a loop.
This has been the case in recent days for the ABC’s youth radio station, Triple J. It’s getting pressure from all sides to change the date of the Hottest 100. Musicians, presenters and the public have started online petitions, and the issue is sparking debate on social media.
The Hottest 100, a music countdown held each year on Australia Day, has become a hot-button issue due to growing awareness about what this day means for Indigenous Australians. There’s now a push to boycott traditional Australia Day celebrations in order to better reflect the experiences of all Australians.
One response from Indigenous rappers Briggs and Trials vocally argues for changing the date of Australia’s favourite music countdown, even debuting a song called “January 26” about the trauma surrounding the public holiday for Indigenous Australians.
Although the circumstance here are unique, similar situations play out in workplaces across the country. When policies are challenged, structures are changed or issues are pulled up, some respond with flexibility while others dig in their heels. So how should you best weather a workplace situation where tensions – and emotions – are running high?
‘In today’s increasingly interconnected world of work, where the lines between our personal and professional lives are becoming increasingly blurred… political views often pour over into the office,’ explains Matt Charney, an advice columnist at Recruiting Daily.
The most important response on the part of those in HR’s position, he explains, is to “remain neutral, no matter what your personal beliefs may be.”
He adds that this “enables you to stay informed and ahead of any potential employee relations situations, provides employees a discreet open door and confidential sounding board, both key for maintaining a workplace where all employees feel safe, included and free of political distractions or contentious arguments.”
So far, Triple J’s reaction has been reflective of good HR practice, releasing a statement last week that emphasises their dedication to working with all involved to find a positive way to resolve the issue:
“This is really important to us. We will continue to talk to Indigenous communities, artists and our audience about the date for the Hottest 100 in future years.”
In short, we hear you and we’re working on it.