The President Is Having A Very Weird Effect On Your Work Life

The onslaught of news articles isn’t going away anytime soon

The American people have been living in a collective anxious state since President Donald Trump took office a few weeks ago.

Most of what President Trump said he would do, he’s either put into some kind of action or talked strongly about trying to. His implementation of the Muslim travel ban and his executive orders on defunding sanctuary cities, deregulating finance, and gutting environmental reform are all promises he made during his campaign—promises he apparently plans to keep.

Every day the American public wakes up to a new tweet, a new mobile alert, and a new piece of news that is alarming, to say the least.

Everyone is stressed out, and it’s starting to show up in workplaces all over the country. That’s why the findings of a survey commissioned by BetterWorks, a software company that helps employees set goals and up performance, may not come as a surprise.

Out of 500 American workers surveyed, 87 percent said they read the news and social media posts throughout the day. Nearly 30 percent of those who do read the news say they feel less productive in their workplace since the election.

This added stress is putting managers and human resource representatives into strange positions says, Kris Duggan, co-founder and CEO of BetterWorks. In a work culture that asks you to bring your “whole self” to work, how can you properly isolate your opinions with both the wider world and your office?

According to blue-chip consulting firm McKinsey & Company, workplace “incivility” is on the rise, in part because people’s emotions about our political state are seeping into their cubicles and watercooler discussions.

Incivility at work is defined by the firm as “the accumulation of thoughtless actions that leave employees feeling disrespected—intentionally ignored, undermined by colleagues, or publicly belittled by an insensitive manager.” These are the kind of small-scale interactions that can cause large problems any company.

This is a worrying trend for employers, considering the consequences of incivility include worker dissatisfaction, high employee turnover, and drops in workplace performance. So what can you do? Duggan offers this advice:

“The onslaught of news articles and social media posts aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s time for organizational leaders to shift their focus to empowering managers to deal with distraction.”

To help do just that, Duggan has five tips for managers all over the country:

1. Don’t micromanage

Now is “not the time to get nitpicky about how much time employees spend checking their social networks,” says Duggan. Cut your people some slack.

2. Stick to your goals

Actionable goals should help your employees focus at work. “Managers should work with employees to set goals that align with the company’s long-term strategy,” advises Duggan.

3. Encourage work-life integration

Real work-life integration allows people to bring their political feelings to work. Just make sure to “help them disconnect on the weekends.”

4. Don’t argue with employees

In our politically charged atmosphere, Duggan suggests not to argue. Instead, “change the subject before it takes a negative toll on your relationship with the employee.”

5. Unite over work

It’s important not to squash your employees' political beliefs at work. The goal should be helping them become empowered to focus on shared work interests, rather than getting caught up in how they feel politically.

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