Politics-free workplaces the answer to 32% increase in hostilities, says Lincoln MD

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A new report shows that hostility in the workplace has increased by nearly a third due to political disagreements in 2016.

This year has seen some huge changes in the political world across the globe with the UK voting to leave the EU, a new ‘last minute’ UK government and Donald Trump becoming the next US President.

These results have made political discussions in the workplace near inescapable.

A survey carried out by HR and employment law specialist Peninsula showed UK employees are feeling stressed, more isolated from their colleagues and less productive, suggesting one in five employees are negatively affected by political talk in the workplace.

It also discovered that 65% of employees avoid talking politics at work.

Neil Buck, Managing Director of The Personnel Department.

Neil Buck, Managing Director of The Personnel Department.

Neil Buck, Managing Director of Lincoln-based The Personnel Department, warned that this trend could be dangerous ground for employers, leading to dismissal, grievances or harassment issues.

He said: “This year, more than any other for obvious reasons, people’s political views undoubtedly have led to divisive debate between family, friends and of course work colleagues.

“Strongly held political views or beliefs can be an emotive issue which can invariably cause various headaches for employers.

“For example colleagues falling out over their views could affect the wider team cohesion, thereby affecting morale and productivity. There could be dismissals, grievances or harassment issues to deal with too.

“The usual unfair dismissal qualifying period of two years has been removed by legislation in cases where the reason, or principal reason, for the dismissal ‘is, or relates to, the employee’s political opinions or affiliation’.

“This raises important considerations to be taken into account by employers when dismissing someone for reasons potentially in relation to their political views.

“However, setting out the expectations and rules regarding respecting differently held views and reminding them of the standards of workplace decorum, or indeed even making the workplace a political free zone altogether, should hopefully keep matters in check.

“Every business depends on teams and teamwork so it is important that employers don’t allow politics to destroy workplace morale.”