Months before the election, there were reports of greater political tension in offices than in previous election cycles. In one survey from the American Psychological Association, 10 percent of respondents said that political discussions at work led to stress, feeling cynical, difficulty finishing work, lower work quality, and diminished productivity.
Now, a new survey commissioned by BetterWorks—a software company that helps workers with setting and tracking goals—finds that post-election, politics is continuing to take a toll on workplace productivity. The online survey 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.
While simply reading political posts at work isn’t in itself a cause for concern, it’s the potential negative impact it has on workers that could pose a challenge for employers. The issue of “not working at work” is one most employers were aware of well before the election. And the stress of the 2016 election both at home and at work was already on the radar of many managers. In fact, some companies said that the election result had become a HR challenge, according to BetterWorks. Still, companies attempted to handle the mixing of a tense political climate and workplace norms the best they could: Some held debriefing sessions about how to appropriately process the results while at work, while some managers wrote all-staff emails emphasizing respect for colleagues.