- June 28, 2021
- By Joshua Reid
- Advice , Politics
- 2020 , 2020 election , debate , politic , political , political debate , politics , president , presidential election
How Politics Impact a Company’s Productivity
In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election and the nomination of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President, there was a lot of media and political discourse about which way he would lead the country during his tenure. Numerous media outlets, from conservative to liberal, began asking questions as to how President Trump’s policies on foreign government, immigration, and specifically, in the case of this article, business, would affect the United States.
What we’ve seen since 2016 is fierce political discourse over everything the former president did and didn’t do. This culminated in an atmosphere of fierce divisiveness that only increased as the 2020 campaigns of President Trump and then-Candidate Biden took off. The whiplash of argumentative and divisive media coverage between the candidates and their differing policies only widened the political discourse, turning the members of the different parties against each other.
The political discourse didn’t end with the outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, COVID-19 seemed to further enhance the tense political discourse as the 2020 Presidential Election neared its end. Even after Joe Biden was inaugurated as President on January 6, the political discourse surrounding the 2020 election and President Joe Biden himself, as well as around the results of President Trump’s term, continues.
Yet the question remains: How has this political discourse impacted businesses’ productivity? And how does it continue to affect them?
With companies being forced onto a virtual platform thans to the pandemic, they are not only having to adapt to a new style of work, but also dealing with the political discourse they are hearing through news outlets and social media. For some companies, political discourse should only be discussed between employees and only around times when there isn’t a presidential election season. Others, however, may choose to not allow political discourse in their workplace all together.
This tension is something that should be addressed, one way or the other.
In a 2017 article by CIO titled “How politics is impacting your company’s productivity,” Sarah K. White states that, in a survey for Wakefield Research, “The results found that 87 percent of employees ‘read political social media posts at work,’ while 80 percent said they have discussed politics with professional contacts or colleagues” (White).
“Instead of ignoring how politics might impact workers and productivity, businesses can instead find ways to encourage employees to give themselves a break from social media and the non-stop headlines,” White writes.
Politics are an important part of society, but they can take hold of you if you let them. Instead of ignoring politics, though, like Sarah noted, use the tense political discourse to fuel your drive to help your company succeed. For example, as a CEO, you can push your employees to work towards the future of your company, even if that means working with people who have different political views. Being productive allows you to work efficiently in whatever area of business you are assigned. Yet at the same time, an employee should be informed about the political atmosphere without it interfering with their work.
Vip Sandhir, CEO of HighGround, an organization that offers employee engagement software, noted that “Organizations should encourage employees to stay politically informed while fostering a respectful and trusting environment — especially during today’s never-ending political news cycle.”
Although political discourse is a touchy topic to broach in the modern workplace, it wasn’t always that way. In a 2018 article by Krystal D’Costa on Scientific American titled “The Impact of Politics on Workplace Productivity,” she states that (during the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh) “For survivors of sexual assault, these proceedings are hard to ignore. There is also a greater emphasis on company culture, and creating an environment where people feel they belong. This creates a greater desire to work in places with like-minded people, which means that people are more interested in their colleagues” (D’Costa).
Being able to work with like-minded people and create an environment where people belong is no easy feat, especially when politics are involved. As D’Costa argued in the article, an employees’ mental health plays a role in how productive a company is. D’Costa outlined several methods that employers can use to facilitate group discussion in the aftermath of President Trump’s inauguration, and I believe that these methods are still relevant given the political discourse surrounding the 2020 Presidential Election. D’Costa’s methods include:
- [Reminding] employees of benefits that may assist them if they are experiencing stress or depression as a result of the current political climate…
- [Taking] steps to bolster a team environment with group activities that foster safe and collegial interactions.
This last point is something I want to touch on. As shown in the weeks leading up to the January 2021 inauguration, the political discourse in the news and on social media seemed to skyrocket into an almost allegiance-based mentality. People huddled in their own echo chambers, and only heard what they wanted to hear. For businesses who are just looking to help their clients in the midst of the chaos, it was and probably still is overwhelming.
D’Costa, Krystal. “The Impact of Politics on Workplace Productivity.” Scientific American, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/the-impact-of-politics-on-workplace-productivity/#. Accessed 15 March 2021.
White, Sarah K. “How politics is impacting your company’s productivity.” CIO, https://www.cio.com/article/3185470/how-politics-is-impacting-your-companys-productivity.html. Accessed 15 March 2021.