President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office have spawned anxiety and even arguments at some workplaces, putting owners — especially at smaller companies — in the position of needing to protect peace and productivity.
At software maker BetterWorks, CEO Kris Duggan has noticed a drop in productivity since Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, with staffers distracted and having less energy as some of their focus shifted to politics.
“They’re wound up, thinking about what march they’re going to,” says Duggan. His company, which makes business management programs and has a staff of about 100, is based in Redwood City, California.
Duggan says he’s aware that employees aren’t getting much rest on weekends — instead of decompressing, they spend time on social media, sharing content that makes them uneasy.
Divided feelings over Trump’s policies and personality affected workplaces of all sizes before the election too, but owners say there are more discussions now between co-workers that can turn disruptive. While plenty of workplaces haven’t had issues or say their employees feel reassured by the new president, others say staffers have been subdued and distracted.
A survey conducted after the Republican and Democratic national conventions last year found a quarter of the 927 workers questioned said political conversations at work negatively affected them, reducing their productivity and creating stress. The survey, released the American Psychological Association, a professional organization, also found that a fifth of the participants were avoiding some co-workers because of their political views, a sign of increasing hostility in the workplace. There are few signs those emotions have waned.
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