Voting in America is more than just something, “you should do.” In the U.S., voting is widely considered an individual’s civic duty. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t vote, especially in mid-term elections like the one yesterday. According to research by Vote.org, around 60 percent of Americans didn’t vote in the last midterm election.
That’s because many Americans must choose between work and family, or voting. Most U.S. households can’t sacrifice a day’s wage, or a day of childcare, just to vote. Voting statistics bear this fact out. Voter turnout, per The Pew Research Center, is directly correlated to annual household income.
According to a 2014 study, 51 percent of households making $100,000 or more a year voted, while only 38 percent of those earning $50,000 or less turned out. Additionally, these turnout percentages drop even further as income decreases.
But, employers can have a hand in changing these numbers. In this article, we’ll tell you what employee benefit employers can use to get their staff to vote and how it can help improve your business overall.
What is Civic Time Off?
Civic time off (CTO) is a form of paid time off which allows employees to engage in a variety of civic activities and duties. Employees can use CTO to vote, volunteer for a candidate, attend a school board meeting, or canvass. Employers typically use a full, half-day, or flexible scheduling to give their employees civic time off.
Why Do Employees Need Civic Time Off?
Civic time off is significant for employees because there is no federal protection for employees taking leave to vote. Some states have voting day protections for employees, but they vary on a state-by-state basis. You can see a list of each state’s voter protection laws, here.
So, unless your company gives it, most employees don’t have the time or access to vote. Granting your staff this access allows your business to be politically conscious without taking a political stance. Through civic time off, your company can support your employee’s beliefs without having to choose a political “side.”
What Are the Benefits of Civic Time Off?
Civic time off helps more people vote. But, civic time off also benefits your business overall. Your employees care about the world outside of your office and strive for a greater work-life balance, especially millennials. This younger generation has demonstrated a propensity for civic engagement.
And, as more millennials enter the workforce, the importance of issues such as voting will only grow for your employees. Civic time off gives your company the opportunity to align its values with your workforce. Aligning employer and employee values makes your staff more engaged.
Similarly, civic time off promotes the idea of employee development. Employers should encourage employee development both inside and outside the office. And, civic time off is a tremendous way for your staff to get involved in civic activities and grow as empowered citizens.
Helping develop your staff as fully-rounded citizens is a tremendous tactic for improving employee job satisfaction. Of course, the more satisfied your employees are the more productive your business becomes.
Whatever your political beliefs almost every American can agree it’s our civic duty to vote. Employers can use this civic time off to ensure their employees are fulfilling this duty on election day without the unnecessary stress of having to plan around their other responsibilities in life.