Ralph Metzner, FEI Director of Product Management

Everywhere we seem to turn, the message is the same: We live in a world in crisis. This is driven, in part, by the current political climate.

Apart from partisanship or party affiliation, unease about the political climate can have a detrimental effect on employees’ ability to function effectively at work.

“The workplace brings people together from different backgrounds who might not ordinarily interact with each other. When you add politics to the mix—a deeply personal and emotional topic for many—there is potential for tension, conflict and problems for both employees and the organization,” said David W. Ballard. Ballard is the director of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence.

He was quoted regarding a survey published by the APA last September. It found employees reporting that stress related to the political situation in the U.S. was causing them to feel argumentative and less productive. As many as 1 in 4 employees reported such feelings, particularly among younger workers. Other negative impacts included a sense of isolation and hostility towards co-workers.

Turbulent days since September may well be intensifying such feelings among those we interact with on a daily basis, and recent media coverage has done little to abate this trend. As these feelings continue to impact the performance and behavioral well-being of our workforces, we are reminded that there can be, indeed, a human cost to headlines.

It is worth remembering the effects such stressors can have when working to build or maintain resilience. Awareness is the first step to understanding our own reactions and anticipating the possible reactions of others.

As Ballard summarized:

“While employers may not be able to limit political discussions in the workplace, they can take steps to ensure those conversations take place in a civil, respectful environment. A psychologically healthy workplace is particularly critical during challenging and polarizing times, and these survey results highlight the fact that despite conventional wisdom, people are often more alike than they are different.”

FEI continues to ensure employers are equipped to maintain civility and respect in times of crisis, and that employees are provided the tools to remain resilient through disruptive events of every size and description.