Talking politics: How to deal with employee conflict

As seen in cases from Silicon Valley, workplace leaders tend to formulate guidelines regarding political expression based on practicality: once the debate rages on, productivity can suffer.

A Gartner survey supports this: about four in five employees say they engage in political chatter in the workplace (78%), yet nearly half of them get distracted at work (47%).

Because of the politically charged climate of 2020, about a third of respondents:

  • Experience stress / frustration when engaging in political discussions at work (31%)
  • Spend more time looking up political news while working (33%)
  • End up avoiding colleagues because of political differences (36%)

“During times of social and political change, employees expect more conscious action and policy from their organisations,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice.

“To minimise the negative impacts of politics on the workplace, HR leaders must ensure that employee emotions and behaviours associated with the current political environment don’t distract and disengage the workforce or create a hostile work environment,” he said.