In almost every workplace at every organization there are politics. According to Talent Management magazine, office politics are common, and it can harm worker productivity and performance. Many HR professionals and managers discount just how political their workplaces truly are. A poll by email content provider SmartBrief on Workforce found the vast majority of workers consider interdepartmental or office politics to be significant at their organizations. In fact, 9 in 10 respondents said being part of the office-politics game helps them get ahead professionally.
While Talent Management notes it may be difficult to get rid of office politics altogether, HR professionals need to have a strong handle on their employee management if they want to be able to bring in and retain talented workers at the company. According to a blog in Harvard Business Review, HR professionals who ignore the impact office politics have on the workforce can be setting themselves and their workers up to experience high stress levels and dissatisfaction on the job. Talented new hires may feel uncomfortable entering into a workplace environment that thrives on internal politics, and there's always the possibility they will be the subject of envy by their co-workers. HR professionals need to ensure they unite the office and have a strong handle on the power struggles of their workplaces to prevent high turnover of key performers and top talent.
Productivity and Performance Risks
According to HBR, there are many important reasons HR professionals should understand the problem intense office politics play on talent management. The perception of workers advancing in the organization through illegitimate means and of employees undermining others' ideas and ambitions due to feeling threatened by them can be harmful to the entire organization. HR professionals can see their management of talent disrupted by company leadership wanting to promote workers who may not be qualified for jobs.
An article in TLNT noted office politics can impact the entire company's culture, allowing workers to move up due to favoritism rather than merit. The most talented workers in the business may then feel like their hard work isn't being rewarded and so they don't have to produce high-quality work because it doesn't matter to their development or advancement at the company anyway. HR professionals can then see productivity and performance slip, harming the entire organization, and also experience high turnover of strong workers.
What HR Can Do
According to Inc. magazine, HR professionals need to ensure all reward systems are fair and the company is focused on being unified rather than divided. It's all too easy for reward systems to be convoluted and secretive, Inc. noted, and this can cause resentment among workers and lead to office gossip. Giving solid reasons for raises and promotions is important to ensuring employees feel they are being rewarded for their merit and performance rather than because they are friends with management.
Talent Management also suggested HR professionals be involved in employee management, because it is all too easy for human resources to simply learn information through the grapevine instead of seeing issues and solutions first hand. According to the magazine, HR professionals need to meet with workers on a regular basis to stay informed on what is happening in the workplace. The magazine gave the example of a project not being finished by the established deadline. HR professionals can determine if interpersonal issues between employees is to blame for the problem or if the involved workers are unable to finish the project because they don't have the skills to do so. This is an important distinction, and can make a big difference to how talent management is handled at the company.
HR professionals can't ignore how much office politics impact the talent management of the workforce. HR reps need to stay in the loop and be aware of how rewards are being handled to prevent low morale and high turnover.