When employees talk politics on the job, it can cause stress, negativity. HR can help turn down the heat on political discourse and ensure a cooler workplace.
In recent years, more people than ever follow and are interested in politics; and many people on all sides of key issues have strong opinions and beliefs. According to a survey by American Psychological Association, at least 1 in 10 working Americans said they have experienced tension or stress, felt more cynical and negative at work, and have had difficulty completely their tasks as a result of political discussions at the office.
Among other results:
· More than half of respondents said they avoid discussing politics with colleagues, and 20% said they avoid some coworkers because of their political views.
· Nearly one-quarter (24%) said they have bonded with coworkers over politics and have a more positive view of them (23%). However, 13% said they have a more negative view of their colleagues, believe there is more workplace hostility, and feel more isolated.
· Men were more than twice as likely as women to report having political discussions at work. At the same time, twice as many men said they have had more trouble completing work tasks and that the quality of their work has suffered because of political discussions on the job.
· Nearly a third (28%) of younger people (ages 18-34) said that workplace political discussions have made them feel stressed out; and 23% said they feel more isolated from their coworkers. More than 1 in 4 young employees said they have a negative view of coworkers because of political talk at the office. About a quarter of these individuals reported that workplace politics have hurt their productivity.
While this survey was conducted just after the 2016 election, the 2020 election is shaping up to be just as complex and polarizing. To address concerns and proactively avoid potential problems, consider implementing a political expression policy. This policy doesn’t have to be long or detailed. It can simply say that employees must be respectful when discussing divergent views and remind them that they must maintain decorum and professionalism at all times.
As we move into a new election cycle, it is helpful to remind employees that not everyone has the same political views and that no one should be made to feel uncomfortable due to their beliefs.