How to Improve Post-Election Productivity in the Workplace
Does it surprise anyone that the 2016 presidential election resulted in political tension in workplaces across the country?
We didn’t think so.
A recent article in The Atlantic reports that the level of politically-based tension in the workplace today is greater than in previous election cycles. In fact, an American Psychological Association survey found that during the election cycle 10 percent of respondents said that political discussions at work led to negative effects on employees, including increased stress, difficulty finishing work and diminished productivity.
What’s more, The Atlantic also reported that post-election politics continue to wreak havoc on productivity in the workplace. A BetterWorks survey cited in the article found that Nearly 50 percent of employees reported seeing a political conversation turning into an argument in the workplace, and another 29 percent of those surveyed said that they have been less productive since the election.
Yikes! But should we really be surprised? From the article:
According to a study from McKinsey, workplace incivility was already on the rise. Researchers suspect the increasing rudeness at the office could result from a variety of factors: from the rise of remote work, to tension over changing workplace hierarchies, or the lack of face-to-face interaction in the age of email and Slack. For businesses, there are costs associated with less collegial workplaces including increased stress, employee turnover, and eroding the trust required for collaborative work.
What Employers Can Do to Combat Post-Election Workplace Tension
“Employers walk a fine line between trying to help their teams focus on productivity and civility and drawing even more attention to political differences through well intentioned efforts, like forums or other heavy-handed intervention techniques,” says Tina Hamilton, PHR, president of myHR Partner. “Finding the right balance between letting people exercise their right to free speech and giving everyone a non-toxic workplace isn’t easy.”
Hamilton encourages employers to stay aware of the political climate within their workplace, and to make sure any existing or new-crafted policies aimed at reducing political arguments or tension on the job are compliant. Focusing on the needs of people in your workforce, and not the politics of the day, can help. “Every office, every workplace is going to have its own unique culture, and within that culture employees should be feel valued and be able to work without negative distractions or unnecessary stress, political or otherwise.”
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