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Politics In the Workplace: Are You Prepared For Claims Of Hostile Work Environments?

 Friday, April 3, 2020

 CLM Magazine

It is an election year, which means from now until the polls close in November, politics will be a big topic of discussion. With key electoral events every month of 2020 including caucuses, debates, and elections, and with news and social-media coverage of the same, employers should expect political discussions to find their way into the workplace.

Of course, there are many benefits to having employees who are good citizens engaged in their communities, but employers should be aware of the fact that with political discussion and activity in the workplace comes significant risk.

There is the obvious loss of productivity from employees engaged in discussions or activities unrelated to their work. Less obvious, however, is the loss of productivity by other employees subjected to what they might classify as unwelcome political discussions in the workplace.

A 2016 survey by the American Psychological Association found 17 percent of working Americans surveyed said they felt tense or stressed out as a result of political discussions during the 2016 election season, and 13 percent reported that they were less productive at work. Notably, in this survey younger workers (ages 18-34) were more likely to have reported that political talk negatively affected their work performance than older workers, with 24 percent of younger workers reporting that they had been less productive; 21 percent reporting a decline in work quality; and 19 percent reporting difficulty in getting their work done.
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