Guest post brought to you by 15Five
Political coverage is nearly unavoidable these days. Even the average workplace has become a politically tense environment. Unfortunately, this has led 31% of employees to report that political differences and expression have had a negative impact on productivity.
Addressing this can be difficult from a leadership perspective. Even if you’re managing by objectives, tension within teams can prevent work from getting completed. If you allow political expression to continue, employees may fight or disagree more often. If you prohibit it, you’re placing what may appear to be unfair limits on your workers’ voices.
You can’t make everyone agree on key issues. However, you can learn to work as a team despite your differences. The following points illustrate how.
Understand Both Sides of the Story
Political differences impact both employees and their managers. That’s why it’s important to hear from both sides when considering how to address this topic. It’s also important to understand that different types of people are affected in different ways. For example, a survey indicates men are twice as likely as women to feel political arguments have negatively impacted their productivity on-the-job.
If you’re an employee who is concerned about this issue, you should first make an effort to find out if your company has any specific policies regarding these types of discussions. You don’t want to get in trouble because you didn’t understand the rules.
That said, you might also feel your employer isn’t doing enough to address the topic. It’s smart to bring this up with management or HR if this is the case. Either way, you should always make an effort to communicate respectfully with coworkers who don’t share your political beliefs. You can decline to speak about politics if you don’t feel comfortable having those types of discussions.
Managers, on the other hand, need to find out how political differences affect their employees. You can do this by distributing a survey in which you ask questions regarding the degree to which political discussions have contributed to workplace stress.
It’s also a good idea to solicit feedback from employees in order to learn if they have any suggestions for modifying the company’s relevant policies. When both managers and employees take steps to create a less-hostile environment, everyone benefits.
Don’t Hide from the Topic
Recent developments have yielded an increased rate of political disagreements between coworkers. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist isn’t an effective management tactic. Instead, it’s important to address the issue. By bringing it up in staff meetings, you can discuss how you may continue talking about politics in the workplace while remaining civil and respecting everyone’s beliefs.
Focus on Values
Surveys indicate a mere 27% of workers believe their employer’s values are applicable to their roles and duties. This is a problem, but it also represents an opportunity. You can counter the negative impact political debates have on productivity by instead focusing on exposing workers to your organization’s values in a way that ensures all members of the team understand the company’s mission. When they’re all working towards the same goals, it’s easier for everyone to set aside their differing beliefs.
The following are ways you may achieve this goal:
- Identify ways to focus more on teaching new hires about the company’s values during onboarding procedures.
- Plan educational and interactive programs designed to boost engagement with the company’s mission.
- Include reminders of the organization’s values in company-wide emails, during annual events, and on any materials (posters, business cards, etc.) widely visible in the office.
Manage Social Media Behavior
The degree to which you allow employees to access social media at work may vary depending on your overall policies. Some companies restrict access to social media entirely, while others allow employees to use social media during breaks (assuming they don’t covertly visit social networking platforms during work hours).
The current political environment may give you a reason to make changes to your social media policy. With people sharing political content and stories more often these days, social media may represent an unwelcome distraction in the workplace.
The right policy for one company may not be right for another. Again, that’s why you should distribute surveys to learn more about the impact of political differences on your employees. Gathering information is key to learning what steps your company ought to take.
In politically turbulent times, it’s understandable that workers may let their beliefs impact their performance at work. These tips will help you guard against lost productivity resulting from differing political opinions. Your workers may not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean the company needs to struggle as a result.