How to deal with all that water cooler drama this election
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The tough presidential campaign is increasingly making us miserable at work. A new study shows a dramatic uptick in election-related workplace tension. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that since the last survey on the topic, in May, the percentage of workplaces reporting higher tension has doubled. Now, a majority of companies say it’s worse than they’ve seen in past elections.
Evren Esen, the author of the report, joined us to talk about increased conflict at the office.
On how the election has negatively affected businesses:
We asked about political volatility and what we defined that as is conflict and hostility and frustration. And so as employees are talking, there’s sort of a sense of despair and exasperation about the candidates and what’s going on. And so that’s making its way into the workplace as well.
On how companies can strike a balance between running a smooth business and allowing employees to share their views:
It is a difficult balance to strike at times. About two-thirds of companies do not have a policy specifically relating to politics in the workplace. However, talking to employees maybe at the beginning of the election cycle, or even during it, to remind everyone to be civil — that’s the most important thing. Every workplace tends to focus on professionalism and respect for each other. And that should also be the case with this particular topic.
On workplace tension lasting beyond the election:
I think it is definitely going to continue and be more prolonged than probably we’ve seen in the past. However, I think with employees, they will, over time, adjust to the results. And we all have differences — those are always there. Part of what’s heightened it is the media, social media, the candidates. But over time, I think employees will reset.
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