CEOs generally have welcomed Donald Trump’s election as a boon for economic efficiency. Though they’d better be careful that his talent for attracting attention isn’t distracting their employees, from interns all the way to the C-suite.
A new survey shows America’s Trump obsession has indeed extended to the workplace, where people have become increasingly more likely to debate politics, whether in person or on social media—instead of doing their jobs.
And it turns out workers aren’t just reading about the president or chatting about the president: they’re totally consumed.
“They’re actually feeling distracted from their work, and dedicate much of their time, both at work and at home, to thinking about and processing the current political situation,” said Kris Duggan, CEO of performance-management technology company BetterWorks, which commissioned the survey.
And who can blame them? Since his inauguration Trump’s controversial travel ban already has inflamed political divisions across the country, while media outlets warn of everything from trade wars to nuclear Armageddon. Ever the showman, the former host of The Apprentice doesn’t look like he’ll be toning it down any time soon.
The survey of 500 adults, carried out by Wakefield Research, found 87% are reading political social media posts during the workday. More concerning was the sheer volume: respondents average 14 posts a day, eating up at least an hour of their time.
Most people said they’d talked about politics in the workplace, around half said they’d seen arguments erupt and 29% said they were less productive since the election.
To be sure, as the Pokemon GO craze demonstrated, Trump’s rise isn’t the only thing capable of distracting workers from their jobs en masse.
As a general rule for tackling distractions, Duggan recommends CEOs avoid micro-managing their conversations and Internet usage. Instead, he urges them to ensure staff are sticking to their performance goals, which adds focus.
And the more politically passionate CEOs out there may want to hold their tongue, he adds. Getting into arguments with underlings can breed low morale and poor performance.
“Change the subject before it takes a negative toll on your relationship with your employee,” he said.