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Best practices for navigating political discussions among coworkers

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The lead up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election showed the potential for workplace disagreements over politics. The topic of the election led to over one-third of American workers either avoiding speaking to or working with a coworker, according to a survey by Gartner , and 44 percent of HR professionals reported intensified political volatility in the workplace (compared to 26 percent in 2016), a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management found.

The cost for healthy workplace cultures? Politics has always been an issue ripe for contention, but in the past two elections, divisions have become more extreme, less civil, and have negatively impacted working relationships—which ultimately affects an organization’s culture and productivity.

In addition to political tensions leading to significant disagreement and the disruption of positive working relationships, these discussions have a higher-than-average risk of resulting in comments regarding race, national origin, sex, age, religion, or other protected classes.

This type of discourse can be (perceived as) discriminatory or hostile toward a group of people, creating an unsafe environment. With current government and social concerns on issues such as immigration, healthcare, gender equity, and race, which all cross into the HR realm, such conversations can lead to harassment […]

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