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Post-election, people even more stressed by political talk at work, survey shows

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Photo: American Psychological Association

Washington – Months into the new presidential administration, American workers are feeling more anxious and negative regarding political talk at work than they did prior to the election, according to the latest survey from the American Psychological Association.

The survey gathered responses from 1,311 full- or part-time workers from Feb. 16 to March 8 and was a follow-up to an August polling, also conducted online by Harris Poll, of 927 adults.

The latest results showed 26 percent of workers felt stressed after talking politics, an increase from 17 percent before the election. Forty percent said they experienced at least one negative result such as decreased productivity, lower quality of work, distraction and a more pessimistic opinion of co-workers. That’s up from 27 percent in the August survey. In addition, 21 percent indicated feeling more cynical after a political discussion, an increase from 15 percent pre-election.

Other findings:

  • Almost one-third of respondents (31 percent) witnessed co-workers arguing about political topics, and 15 percent said they were involved in at least one disagreement. More than half of those polled (54 percent) have participated in at least one political discussion at work.
  • Nearly one in four respondents (24 percent) have stayed away from co-workers because of their political views.
  • Women who were polled showed a higher increase of negativity, 20 percent post-election versus 9 percent before. For men, only a slight bump – from 20 percent to 23 percent post-election – was recorded.
  • People who identified themselves as liberal were more likely to feel anxiety: 38 percent compared with 22 percent for moderates and 21 percent for conservatives.

“Employers might prefer to keep political talk out of the workplace, but the reality is these often-heated discussions have intensified since the election, posing a threat to employee well-being and business performance,” said David W. Ballard, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, in a press release. “Whether it’s about politics or any other difficult conversation on the job, managers and supervisors need to create a work climate where people with diverse opinions and backgrounds can work together toward common goals without their differences creating a toxic environment.”

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