Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have two things in common: They are controversial and disliked by many.
Although the home stretch of the election officially launched during the Labor Day weekend, it seems the heated debates over the candidates got off to an early start everywhere, including the workplace. And that can create major headaches for HR leaders if political banter among employees turns ugly, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.
In June, weeks before the Democratic and Republican national conventions, SHRM released the results of a survey that showed 26% of HR professionals perceived a greater political volatility in the workplace this year compared with previous election years.
What’s more, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 45% of Americans have gotten into a fight over the presidential candidates with a friend, a family member or a co-worker in August, up from a third in May.
In the verbatim comments from the SHRM survey, HR professionals commented that employees are more vocal about their opinions, they feel the presidential candidates are more polarizing than in previous years, and that employees appear to be more concerned in regards to their choices of candidates than in previous elections.
While more than 70% of HR professionals reported no difference in the political volatility in the workplace, some HR executives noted because the potential of volatility is so tangible, employees are avoiding political talk altogether.
Nonetheless, the nasty barbs are bound to be traded daily between the two candidates during this contentious campaign, which may evoke emotional reactions and talk among employees.
“I’ve never seen an election so contentious and people with high levels of anxiety on both sides of this conversation when just the mention of either candidate’s name instantly heightens somebody’s emotions,” Edward Yost, SHRM’s HR business partner/employee relations, said.
In the Sept. 14, 2016 print edition of CU Times, credit union HR executives, including one from a key battleground state, share their insights about how this unusual presidential election is affecting the workplace and how they are managing it.