Corporate Culture: Dealing with Office Political Talk in an Age of Division

Eric Brown | | Change Management

corporate culture

Most employees are aware that they should not discuss religion or politics in the office, and not only to help preserve corporate culture. However, in today's divisive political climate, many employees are ignoring that norm and divulging their political views openly in the office. When political views are discussed at work, it can have a negative impact on company culture and employee communications.

 

How Political Talk Affects Corporate Culture

According to a study by the American Psychological Association back in 2016, one in four employees is negatively affected by political talk in the office. It can cause stress, lack of motivation, lost productivity, and teamwork disruption. In fact, 20 percent of employees subjected to political talk in the workplace make efforts to avoid other team members who express or share their political views openly.

When teamwork is altered, it can not only erode your corporate culture but impact your bottom line. However, there are steps you can take to limit or reduce political commentary in your business and keep your teams united, productive, and engaged in moving your company forward. Here are a few suggestions:

Establish Company Policies and Rules Governing Political Talk

Design and implement company policies that deter employees from disclosing or sharing their political views in the office. Establish employee communication protocols and guidelines that keep employees from distributing political material or wearing political garments or attire to work. Prohibit employees from sending political emails and other material to co-workers.

Encourage Employees Not to Discuss Political Views After Hours

the place of politics in corporate cultureIt is best for employees to keep political views to themselves in all interactions with coworkers. Refrain from making statements on social media and other communication platforms with coworkers outside the office. Controversial political views can make co-workers think differently about each other, which can lead to friction in the workplace. When workers know the political views of others, it can quickly change the image or reputation that other team members might have of that person and hurt team spirit and morale.

Avoid Controversial Topics at Work

Heated topics, such as abortion, immigration reform or same-sex marriages should be avoided in the office. These topics often are ingrained in an employee’s moral and religious beliefs. Openly discussing such topics can cause intense and heated commentary that can disrupt work relationships. Sensitive issues have no place in the workplace.

Promote Peace and Harmony in the Workplace

Encourage workers to walk away from hot political debates and discussions that may arise in the office. This will maintain peace in the office and keep the company culture from deteriorating due to competing controversial political views. One should not expect to change another person’s political views over a lunch break at work.

Conclusion

With on-going local, presidential and mid-term elections, it is probably wishful thinking and illogical to believe political talk will never arise in your company. Your corporate culture is unique to your business. It is the personality of the company and creates an atmosphere that supports the goals, mission, values, expectations, and ethics of the business. You want to do all you can to protect it from the negatives of unwelcome political talk in the office. Remember, political differences can destroy families, friendships and, yes, businesses, too. Have provisions in place to protect your company now.

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