Every day, millions of people around the world wake up, grab their cell phones, open up their news apps — thanks for all those depressing alerts, Apple — and loudly ask themselves “what fresh hell is this?” Usually, that fresh hell is a tweet from our President in which he gets mad at Nordstrom for not selling his daughter’s clothes or SNL or the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. No matter what the news is, though, the feelings of dread welling up in your stomach as you read it doesn’t just go away. You can’t drown them with a scalding shower and you can’t burn them away with one, two, five cups of coffee. So you bring them to work. And that’s becoming a problem.
The Atlantic reports that a new study has found that at least one third of American people have become much less productive at work after the results of the election were announced. It was hard to focus during the election, sure, but the study reveals that it’s become even more difficult since Trump took office and started dishing out “alternative facts” and running through The White House demanding to speak to the person in charge of making The Hunger Games into a real live thing.
From The Atlantic:
The online survey [conducted by goal-setting company BetterWorks] included 500 nationally representative, full-time American workers, and found that 87 percent of them read political social-media posts during the day, and nearly 50 percent reported seeing a political conversation turning into an argument in the workplace. Twenty-nine percent of respondents say they’ve been less productive since the election.
Why commission such a study in the first place? According to Kris Duggan, BetterWorks’ CEO, it was created after he noticed that the post-election haze (gloom?) that descended upon BetterWorks’ own office was beginning to cause tension in the workplace. “People spend time on Facebook, they go and look at cat photos and have some down time, and that’s fine. With all the political posts, it seemed like people were getting worked up, argumentative, and distracted,” he told The Atlantic.
While some might suggest that bringing politics into the office is unprofessional and should be stopped, it’s also undeniable that politics has recently permeated every part of our lives. To keep politics out of the workplace, companies would have to block all social media on their employees’ phones and computers. And that would lead to even lower morale.
So how should businesses deal with the fallout from America’s latest election? No one knows yet, but it’s clear that both managers and HR departments will have to work fast to figure out how to deal with the rising tensions caused by political unrest at the water cooler. Otherwise, there’s no telling how much further communication and productivity might break down.