A new employee survey finds talking about you-know-who at work is hurting our productivity levels lately. Let's all meet by the virtual water cooler to #discuss!
That's right: All the Trump talk at work is dragging down our numbers, according to a new survey from software firm BetterWorks and Wakefield Research. Wakefield surveyed 500 U.S. adult employees on behalf of BetterWorks, and found that a whopping 87% are reading "political social media posts" during the workday.
BetterWorks equates all this screen time to -- get this! -- TWO HOURS LOST DURING THE WORK DAY. Why? In case it's not obvious, we're highly distracted by The Donald. Forget office politics; we're too busy discussing Washington DC politics!
Additional work time is being lost because we must then discuss what has been said so far today (and it's only 11 a.m.). The survey reveals nearly three-fourths of employees (73%) are talking politics frequently with their colleagues in recent weeks, while almost half (49%) said they have watched co-workers' political conversations turn into "full-blown arguments." Yikes. (Millennial employees account for 63% of these arguments, too. Given that Millennials are now the most populous generation in the workforce, however, this finding may not be all that surprising.)
The employees surveyed realize they're losing productivity: 40% said they are aware of their lost productivity since the election, while slightly more than one-third (34%) of Millennials said they "have participated in a rally since then."
So according to BetterWorks and Wakefield Research, many employees are not working better over the last few weeks, and they have the research to prove it!
Mixing Politics With Productivity
Sorry to scream at you earlier in all-caps like a certain POTUS, but many of us feel like screaming lately. If you're like me, then you're pulling up Melissa McCarthy's SNL skit when you need a really good belly laugh. Everybody just cool out, alright?! Seriously, the skit is one of the funniest things I've ever watched.
So what can the average manager do about the Donald-induced productivity drain? The cold, hard truth is that managers can tell employees not to talk about politics or forbid them from surfing the latest news feeds on their phones, but they will probably find a way to do it, anyway. Besides, managers are people too (that's not an alternative fact!) and they're probably keeping up with the latest news on the down low just like employees. (Shh, I won't tell anyone, managers.)
Here is a March 2012 post about what to do when a co-worker's political views are changing your opinion of them. It offers a few tips for working alongside colleagues who are coming from a completely different political perspective.
My perspective on this topic? Let employees catch the latest headlines and don't worry too much about it as long as employees are (1) meeting deadlines; (2) reaching their daily goals; and (3) not jumping across their desks to wrestle each other to the ground. We're up to our eyeballs in breaking news updates, and we want (need?) to discuss them sometimes. But we can be civil with our co-workers while doing so. Civility is the key word here.
We will get through these challenging times; we just need to share our political opinions respectfully without attacking our co-workers on a personal level. We are good people, and we need to act like it. Oh, and let's make sure to get our work done today, too.