How to Address Current Events in the Office

Unfortunately we are living in the midst of many current events with highly emotional triggers.  Political issues, pay inequality, global concerns, and constant protests are just a few of the current events that are getting people talking.  Add the element of social media outlets and 24-hour news coverage and you have the recipe for a distracted and unproductive working environment.  Your employees might not be speaking out openly about these issues but there is a good chance they are being talked about quietly in corners.  This poses an important question: how does an employer deal with these types of issues in the office?  Here are a few strategies employers can try to keep the employee focus on work instead of outside issues.

Be Aware

As a manager it is important to be aware of any issues or conflicts that might be arising from current events discussions at work.  Listen carefully as you walk around the office or grab coffee in the break room.  If you do hear of an issue, don’t ignore it in hopes that it will resolve itself.  Instead, have a direct conversation with the involved party and let them know where you stand on discussing current events in the office.

Be Proactive

It is always better to prevent problems before they occur.  Set a good example and model the behavior that you want from your employees.  It is probably best to avoid the subjects of religion and politics in the workplace.  Avoid making jokes about controversial topics and do not use terminology that could be offensive to others.  If an employee tries to engage you in a political conversation, politely remind them that you prefer to stay away from those topics at work.

Set Clear Boundaries

You should step in and set clear boundaries so that employees know what behavior is and is not acceptable in the office.  When leaders have clear rules in place, employees will have a good understanding of what will and will not be tolerated. Set boundaries that reflect your organization’s core values so that employees see the connection.

Cut Down on Social Media in the Workplace

Limit your employees’ access to social media during work hours.  Encourage them to take a break from social media outlets in order to avoid overexposure to current events and redirect the focus to their work.

Resolve Problems Quickly

If you come across tension in the workplace caused by discussion of current events you must act quickly.  You do not want to allow team members to feel threatened, disrespected, or offended by other coworkers.  You should handle the situation immediately and be consistent in how you address the issue.  Allowing the situation to fester could cause major problems in the workplace.

Too much talk of current events in the office can cause tension and lead to a more unproductive workplace.  Employees can easily become offended, discouraged, and feel bullied by their fellow co-workers.  These helpful tips can keep current events from disrupting your workplace in order to promote a healthier and more productive work environment.