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Political Expression Affecting Productivity

By Hana Khalyleh, WorldatWork

May 3, 2017 — With the tumultuous landscape in Washington, D.C., political expression in the workplace is affecting job performance, with many employees calling on employers for a policy to address it.

56% of respondents to a Korn Ferry Hay Group survey reported that disclosing their political affiliation at work could negatively affect their career; 17% said their company has lost business because of a public political stance; and 23% of the 742 surveyed executives said the current political environment interferes with their job performance.

This coincides with 31% of respondents to a survey by Clutch, a B2B ratings and review site, who said that political conversations among co-workers decrease productivity. The survey of 1,000 full-time employees found that 12% of respondents surveyed said that, within the week that they responded to the survey, they felt "uncomfortable" by political discussions at work.

"While politics in many parts of the globe is an incredibly divisive issue, corporations would do well to encourage constructive dialogue across the divide," said Andres Tapia, Korn Ferry Hay Group senior client partner and solutions leader. "Political diversity is a new frontier in the work of inclusion. While no one seems to be listening to one another out in the public square, corporations who already are nurturing inclusive environments have a unique opportunity to foster nonpolarizing conversations that lead to new understandings of political positions difficult to comprehend."

Among the respondents to the Clutch survey, 58% of those who reporting feeling uncomfortable due to political conversations, or who believe their company's productivity has dropped because of politics, said their company should develop a policy addressing the issue. But not all responding employees agreed on organizational input on these conversations. 31% said their organization should not have a policy or guideline in place regarding political expression. Those who oppose company guidelines, according to Clutch, said that they may feel their company is trying to micromanage them, and that limiting their expression at work will negatively affect the workplace culture.

Regardless, Steve Albrech, Ph.D. and HR consultant affiliated with Clutch, suggested that there should be some kind of policy that address behavior and how employees communicate.

"Something that says, 'We work in the same place. Despite differences in a number of issues, we act as one team and one organization, so we need to be respectful and respected by our peer,'" he said. "When discussions about the news turn into arguments, people have the right to address the conflict."


Hana Khalyleh is the spring 2017 intern for the News, Publications & Communications team.

Contents © 2017 WorldatWork. For more information, contact the Copyright Department at WorldatWork.

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