As a federal employee, you know that politics will have a significant impact on your job and the direction of government. Even in non-presidential election years, you face the uncertainty of a volatile Congress swinging one way or another.
Since most of you are Civil Service Employees, technically your job should be safe. Yet you still find yourself stressed and concerned about a new leader and the direction she or he may take their leadership. As well, you are mostly prohibited by law from directly advocating for the candidates. If you are a Union member, your organization will likely be involved in supporting a candidate but you must temper your engagement.
All of these issues may create a stressful situation for you. Will sweeping new budgets pass where Congress and the President decide to abolish your agency? Will they demand that you work longer hours and increase your paperwork ten-fold when all you want is to serve patients? Will your organization become a political football on the campaign trail?
Questions such as these will be a part of your life for the next six months as well as scrutiny, nosy neighbors and much more community interaction. How can you possibly manage to endure it all and keep your thoughts to yourself?
Here are some tips to guide you along the way:
- Limit exposure. The all news television stations and radio stations will be full of presidential politics and politics in general. Every word of each candidate will be scrutinized and dissected every single day. The Sunday talk shows will speak of little else. Limit your exposure. If there is a major news event – such as weather or tragedy, the news will temporarily shift and you can learn all about it then.
- Social Media Engagement. Place some rules on your social media pages that are public. Indicate that you are a federal employee and there should be no political commentary on your page and to please respect you. This will not stop the rants and opinions that will endlessly stream through your friends. If you find you are being bothered by comments your Cousin Joe is making, temporarily block them until after the election. Make a list of the people you block so that you can go unblock them after November. Wish them a Happy New Year in 2017.
- Participate in normal stress relief activity. The election will be all around you. If you like sports, stay on ESPN. Personally, I can’t wait for football season and it will provide somewhat of a distraction from the election. If this isn’t your thing, go fishing, read a book, play with the kids or grandkids. Go outside for walks, work in the garden and keep yourself away from the media as much as possible.
- Deep breathing. If you find yourself in a social situation where the talk is 100% political, take a few deep breaths and consider changing the subject or finding others at the gathering to speak with about your favorite things. Deep breathing always helps. Small talk is tough. You can always say, “how about those Broncos?” (chosen as they were last Super Bowl victors)
- Prepare yourself for change. No matter how the election turns out, your ultimate boss, the President, will be a new person. The pattern of governing will change. Strengthen your self-confidence and your job performance. You have adapted to many new leaders over the years and you will adapt again.