Political discussions can be distracting and controversial in the workplace. Here’s what you can do to address this delicate issue
“Workers aren’t just reading and talking about politics. They’re actually feeling distracted from their work, and dedicate much of their time (both at work and at home) to thinking about and processing the current political situation,” said Kris Duggan, CEO of software firm BetterWorks.
BetterWorks commissioned the study with Wakefield Research and they revealed that 87 per cent of 500 working American adults surveyed were reading political social media posts during the workday. Duggan said this equates to two hours lost during the day.
Political discussions in the office were also on the rise as 73 per cent said they often talk to their colleagues about politics and 49 per cent said they witnessed conversations turn into full-blown arguments – and that number rises to 63 per cent when it involves millennials.
Moreover, nearly 40 per cent of workers said they were aware that they have become less productive since the elections while 34 per cent of millennials said they have participated in a rally since then.
“The onslaught of news articles and social media posts aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s time for organisational leaders to shift their focus to empowering managers to deal with distraction,” said Duggan.
She said there are five ways managers can keep productivity high despite the distraction of big changes outside of the office.
- Don’t micromanage – Don’t cut employees out of social media and allow them the freedom to have the information they need.
- Focus on goals – Don’t deviate from goals you have already set with the employees. “Goals adds focus amidst the distraction and helps employees get their work done,” said Duggan.
- ‘Encourage work-life integration’ – Be cognisant of the fact that true integration means they will bring their personal life into the office, including their political beliefs and try and find a way to manage their workload until things normalise so they are not too overwhelmed.
- Hold your tongue – You have political beliefs of your own and if you’re tempted to argue with an employee who doesn’t share your view, change the subject before you ruin the manager-employee relationship.
- ‘Unite over work’ – In the face of a major distraction, it is your job to find a way to help employees stay productive. “When employees have the means to stay focused on work, it can actually feel like a respite,” said Duggan.