TALLAHASSE, Florida: Pundits are projecting this year’s mid-term elections to be nasty, polarising and “epic”.
They’re also expected to stress a lot of Americans out in every part of their lives. And that includes at the office.
I recently conducted a study on a broad range of workplace issues, including how the stress of our increasingly divisive politics is affecting worker health, productivity and relationships with colleagues. I also wondered: Is there anything company managers can do about it?
But political divisiveness in America is hardly new.
Historians have traced its history all the way back to the founding founders. But politics seem to be dividing Americans more and more.
In a recent article in Scientific American, psychologists Cameron Brick and Sander van der Linden explained that individuals of different political ideologies “not only disagree on policy issues, they are also increasingly unwilling to live near each other, be friends, or get married to members of the other group”.
Consequences include marital stress, divorce, family separations and even sharp divides over national pastimes like football.
There is a bright side – if you’re a therapist and benefiting from an uptick in business perhaps as the result of a malady described as “Trump Anxiety Disorder”.
POLITICS AT WORK
I wanted to see just how bad it’s getting in the workplace.
So I asked 550 full-time workers whose email addresses I obtained through my undergraduate students to react to hundreds of statements about a wide variety of work issues, from abusive bosses and workplace relationships to incivility and health. I also asked about the pervasiveness and impact of unwelcome partisan exchanges.
Participants were asked to indicate how much they agreed with each statement, from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Most of the workers were based in the eastern or southeastern United States, but some were scattered throughout the country. Key characteristics of the data such as age, gender and ethnicities are…