Is Election Stress Stressing Your Team?
It is almost impossible to avoid the barrage of politically-driven messages and ads right now. Every time you turn on the TV, the radio (what is that?), or pop open a new YouTube video, you see them. Even social media platforms are prioritizing reminders to register and vote. Let me be clear: I think voting is an incredible privilege. To even have this freedom to exercise is tremendous, and we should absolutely take advantage of it. However, constant information overload during election time can quickly lead to mental and emotional overwhelm and fatigue… which definitely impacts our teams and our work. Don’t believe me? A recent study has shown that over 50% of employees have reported that election stress has prevented them from being productive in their jobs. In the past, stress has increased during election years. Maybe you’ve felt it yourself. But this election year, combined with the global pandemic and virtual schooling and remote work, that stress has skyrocketed. Ignoring the problem won’t fix it. We’re too bombarded with this messaging to just pretend it’s not there. So, until the election is over, how can your company facilitate a safe space for connection and recognition of these intense emotions? How can you and your team make your way through this intensity… and still be able to serve your clients well? As a Business Therapist, here are my top five tips for acknowledging and accommodating the humxn element during this time of political intensity (on top of the rest of this year’s insanity).
- Do not avoid conversations about intense feelings by focusing only on intense subjects. Instead, make a point to acknowledge the humxn factor. Depending on the workplace culture, politics may not be an accepted topic of conversation, but conversations about the things currently happening in our world and how they impact everyone’s ability to perform their job are important. They are the forums where teammates can release some of the fear and anxiety they may feel about any decrease in performance they may experience as a result of this stress.
- Consider having on-call mental health consultants for election day. Having ready support in place to help individuals process the results can help teammates work through their emotions in real-time. My company, A Better Place Consulting, is facilitating space for several companies throughout the next week to ensure that everyone can move through election results and stress, then continue forward, refocusing their energy on making a difference through the work they do.
- Be conscious of your biases, and ensure your business’ culture and conversations are inclusive. Remember, emotions are contagious, so encourage leaders to keep team conversations positive. Make sure everyone is heard and respected. For more information on this topic, I recommend Dr. Tiffany Jana’s book, Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions.
- Turn the TV off during work. We all have plenty of enough input already; having a TV in the office often causes more stress than any benefit received from being constantly updated (you’re already kept up-to-date in so many other ways!). Increased stress equals decreased productivity, so encourage your team to adopt a no-TV policy during work hours. Talk with them about how important it is to create a safe space to work and focus. It is what will allow them to truly make an impact.
- Revisit your company values. Along the same lines as the idea of a no-TV policy, your team might want to discuss and establish social media policies or other media exposure and usage guidelines. To create team policies effectively, start with values. By going back to core values and allowing teammates to find their common humxn beliefs, any policy you make will be more accepted among your team. They will know their values align not only with the policy but with the values of their fellow teammates.
As part of your discussion, have people share why they chose this team and this company. What about the company’s values and vision attracted them? Recalling their original enthusiasm for the company’s mission and why they decided to come on board is a great way of raising morale and reminding everyone of the wonderful impact they are making. Would you or your company like more resources on election stress and how to support mental well-being in the workplace? Send us a message! You can also provide your team with this awesome, free resource: “How to Stay Sane During Insane Times”