In the spirit of the Presidential Election happening in America right now, I wanted to talk about a subject that seems to be a sore thumb for many companies, office politics. Workplace politics or office politics are the games that people play to gain favor or to change the perception of them. This can happen both positively and negatively, however the latter seems to be more common. Typically this will happen with supervisors asking their team to behave differently to make them look better, or in the accounting realm with fudging the numbers just a little bit to make the margins look better. Regardless of how the politics are created, they are the leading cause of workplace stress according to Personnel Today.
The old saying goes that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Today that saying is alive and well – creating a change in the workplace environment. Many companies will employ teams of Project Managers or Sales people or whatever industry you want to take, and pit the employees against each other. Managers are always looking and the numbers and evaluating who is the star and who is going to receive the biggest bonus this year. In these environments, you can’t blame someone for looking for a way to get ahead. The sneaky maneuvers and political BS that goes into influencing the perception of us is just a tactic to be noticed. While it may be understandable that the culture many companies have bred created the political games, it has created an uncomfortable place to work.
A journal in the Academy of Management states that as employees perception of office politics increases, so does their turnover intentions. Businesses that spawn bad politics are actually leading to higher amount of turnover, which can cost the company significantly more than added costs of retaining employees. In fact, a study by the Center for American Progress cites that employee turnover can cost the company up to 213% of that employee’s salary.
Every office will be subject to politics in some form or another. Often times, we will find that the amount of perceived politics is low or even beneficial, however the instances where negative perception are abundant are far too common. If we find ourselves working in a place that encourages the political games, I would say try to get out! But there are a few things you can do to help mitigate the problem. However you choose to handle it, remember what it can cost the company and the stress that employees can have in the wrong environment. Let’s work together to build better places to work in America!
I would love to hear your experiences with office politics, leave a comment below to continue the discussion!