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Politics is Turning U.S. Employees into Cynical Stress Puppies

Are you feeling increasingly stressed out at work for no apparent reason? Do you think your teammates are motivated by self-interest, and nothing more?

Do you have to remind yourself not to be so distrustful of human sincerity, and integrity?

Well, buck up because you're not alone! A new American Psychological Association online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. adults employed full time, part time or self-employed** finds many of us are turning into cynical stress puppies on the job, and our current political environment is to blame.

Unfortunately, our workplace malaise has grown worse since the APA conducted the same survey last Fall. Basically, we're all turning into Silicon Valley's Gilfoyle.


I'll let the APA's press release do the talking because I'm still so bummed out after yesterday's Trumpcare vote in the U.S. House of Representatives:

American workers are more likely to say they are feeling stressed and cynical because of political discussions at work now than before the 2016 presidential election, according to survey results released today by the American Psychological Association.

The survey found that 26 percent of full-time and part-time employed adults said they felt tense or stressed out as a result of political discussions at work since the election, an increase from 17 percent in September 2016 when they were asked about political discussions at work during the election season. More than one in five (21 percent) said they have felt more cynical and negative during the workday because of political talk at work, compared with 15 percent before the election, according to the survey from APA's Center for Organizational Excellence.

If you follow my workplace blog, then you may have wondered where I've been in recent weeks. Well, I've been laying low and wondering what the hell is going on. Yesterday, I watched our elected leaders pat themselves on the back for barely rounding up enough votes in favor of throwing 24 million Americans off their healthcare coverage. The feeling that we're living through The Hunger Games of healthcare legislation is completely demoralizing, scary and stressful. I hope the U.S. Senate will stand up and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

It feels like we don't have each other's back anymore, and we wonder why we're feeling more stressed and cynical on the job. The APA survey finds more than half (54%) of survey respondents have discussed politics at work since the election. Of these employees, more than one-third (40%) have suffered "at least one negative outcome" ranging from reduced productivity, flagging work quality and more difficulty getting work done to an increasingly negative view of coworkers, feeling stressed out or simply feeling a greater sense of hostility toward others. Last September when the election was in full swing, slightly more than one-quarter (27%) reported experiencing at least one of these negative outcomes.

We're more ready to rumble at work, too: Nearly one-third surveyed (31%) have watched coworkers argue about politics recently, and 15% said they have gotten into a political argument with their colleagues. Women at work, meanwhile, report feeling twice as cynical as their male counterparts. Hmm, I wonder why.

The good news in the APA survey? I'm still looking for it, but it's a great survey that's worth a read. We may have different political views, but we can find compromise just like previous generations managed to do. We simply need to try again, and a good place to start would be by electing leaders who are able to care about the people they do not know.

** Note: 1,311 employees surveyed were employed full time or part time.


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