By 7am on Friday 24 June, we should have the results of the EU referendum.
Unsurprisingly, this was the main topic dominating conversation at EB Towers yesterday. Political decisions and preferences, of course, played a part in these conversations, but the question we heard more than any other during the course of the day was ‘have you voted yet?’
The over-riding expectation was that the answer to this question would always be ‘yes’.
Yet, looking at voter turnout data from other recent elections, it should not be assumed that this would automatically be the case. According to House of Commons research data, 66% of registered voters turned out to vote in last year’s general election. And this doesn’t take into account the proportion of the population that is eligible to vote but has not registered to do so.
When looking at voter turnout worldwide, this places the UK relatively far down the global rankings. In fact, in 28 countries voting is even compulsory.
Given the importance of the issues at stake and the potentially huge ramifications of the outcome, in my view, more needs to be done to engage the UK population and encourage them to exercise their right to vote.
So do employers have a role to play here? It seems that some believe that they do. Software firm Azimo and van leasing organisation Vanarama, for example, both gave staff paid time off in which to cast their vote. In the case of Vanarama, the policy was driven by the organisation’s chief executive who also encouraged staff to read up on the issues and ensure that they registered their view.
I’m not suggesting that employers invest a great deal of time and resource in educating staff about political issues – I think we all have enough on our plates without adding additional huge tasks – but simply acknowledging such significant events and encouraging staff to do likewise can go a long way towards raising awareness and engaging individuals.
Surely that can only be a positive step forward.