There’s no doubt that this Presidential election has caused a great amount of tension in almost every setting. Talking about politics and which candidate you do or don’t support can get pretty heated, and make for some strained conversations. This election in particular, it seems, has sparked an immense amount of debate among nearly everyone: according to a poll taken by The Wall Street Journal, over 50% of HR managers said that they believed workplace tension was higher this year than it has been in any other election year. The stakes are high for our country, and many have strong opinions on who should be responsible for a lot of the big decisions and changes that need to be made in the upcoming years. Since Donald Trump has been declared President Elect, the debate has people all the more polarized. Political talk is something you just can’t get away from recently, no matter where you are – including in the workplace.
The Wall Street Journal reports that workplace tensions have been running high due to talk of the election – employees have threatened to quit, entire departments have fought against one another, and bosses and HR managers are caught in the middle of it all. But what are they to do about this issue? Clearly, opinions over our country’s future has torn some workplaces apart. However, managers can’t just ban all talk of the election. Not only would that violate some basic civil rights, but it would also be nearly impossible to implement.
It seems, then, that the best way to go about the election tension at work is to manage the conflicts that arise as best as possible. The election is something that is too current and relevant to attempt to suppress conversations about while at work. Some employees have already taken the initiative on this, and have ceased to give their opinions on political matters while on the clock, according to The Wall Street Journal. Although it may not be typical for some to keep quiet about these things at work, they feel that it is most likely for the best if conflict is to be avoided.
So what’s a manager to do? Sensitivity training isn’t just about race, sex, and religion. If your workplace is suffering from this polarizing presidential election leadership first and foremost should keep their opinion out of it and, much like our elected officials, focus on uniting the workforce and encouraging an environment of respect and discresion. Even providing sensitivity training focusing on disengaging from volitile conversations and respecting eachother can make a difference. The old addage “if you don’t have something nice to say keep your comments to yourself” is a nice reminder of appropriate office decorum. And rememeber, regardless of the party you support we are all Americans, brothers and sisters under the same flag, and deserve to feel safe and respected in the workplace.