Office politics is one thing. Talking politics at the office is another. And the latter is a growing source of stress for employees, according to the American Psychological Association.
In September 2016 during the lead up to last year’s U.S. presidential election, the APA surveyed employees and found that 17% felt political stress or tension from debates in the office. Six months after the election, tensions were even higher, with 26% reporting political stress and tension in the workplace.
Such feelings have led to cynicism, and 40% of workers said they had a negative outcome at work because of political talk, reports an article on AssociationsNow.com.
“We’re trying to work in more collaborative environments,” says Edward Yost, HR partner for the Society for Human Resource Management, in a recent Bloomberg article. “So often, people, even though they need some piece of information to complete a project, they’d rather pull their own teeth out than talk to people they don’t like.”
While today’s diverse working environments can cause problems, an open environment that encourages dialogue might help, says David Ballard, director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Effectiveness.
“Employers and employees have a shared responsibility to resist the trap of vilifying those with different opinions and actively encourage civility, respect, collaboration and trust,” he says. “A psychologically healthy work environment can help diminish the negative consequences of unavoidable political discussions and serve as a source of stability and support, even during divisive times.”