Politics at work

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Following last week’s elections, tensions within the press and public have been running high. With the conservative party itself fractured by the less than expected results, it’s not surprising that the community are also unable to align their opinions. When politics is thrust so firmly into the public eye, keeping it out of the workplace can seem less than plausible, however, research tells us these conversations could be drastically harming our working wellbeing.

According to the American Psychological Association, who conducted their research following America’s similar problems with political polarity, 10% of workers felt discussions of politics had led to greater stress and diminished productivity. Learning then how to keep these discussions at a tolerable and professional level is more important than ever.

Mark Fallon, CEO of Mr Finch Law Firm, suggests that in order to avoid confusion regarding what is and isn’t allowed, a political activity policy should sit firmly beside anti-harassment, within the staff handbook. Enforcing the idea that “your employees have the right to hold political opinions but prohibiting them from taking part in any type of political activity whilst at work”. This procedure avoids any unnecessary arguments regarding “Vote Corbyn” T-shirts or “Trump for President” caps which employees may choose to wear to work functions.

Learning how to manage to talk about politics in a productive manner can provide valuable lessons when considering other difficult work conversations. Providing employees with negotiating and debating skills, talking policy can have its positives. It’s important, however, that we all know our triggers. With the DUP, probably one of Britain’s most divisive political parties, being thrust into the spotlight via a potential alliance with the conservatives, difficult issues close to people’s hearts have become up for grabs. It’s important to remember than that, when discussing policy, changes can have an effect on both people’s livelihoods and home lives. These policies are likely to cause a greater rift than opposing ideas about renationalising the railways.

An important point to be made then is to regard the relationship you have had with your debating partner in the past. After all, it’s much more likely that a difference in political parties will be forgotten about with your work BFF, than that one guy you’ve spoken to once at the water cooler. Politics should be part of the conversation, not the entire conversation and if you wouldn’t divulge personal details with this person, maybe lay off the political details.

When wondering whether to bring up a particularly political article, we recommend you remember the 3 rules of politics chat; Is it worth it? Is it allowed? And is it kind? After all, as Liane Davey, co-founder of 3COze Inc says,

“We all want our country to be great. We just have different views on how to get there.”