Political polarization in your hospital? 3 tips for addressing it

Hannah Mitchell - Print  | 

Political opinions have fueled perceptions of COVID-19 and vaccine mandates. As hospitals and health systems require their staff to get the shot, it may spark political polarization. Here are three strategies to mitigate polarization, according to a July 29 Harvard Business Review report.

Employees may have an exaggerated view of political differences between colleagues and themselves, which can increase employee turnover, create a hostile work environment and lead employees to hide their opinions for fear of retaliation. All of these can negatively affect employee satisfaction and effectiveness, the report said.

Three tips to avoid politically charged polarization:

  1. Replace competitive systems with collaborative ones.
    Allow your employees to bond by incentivizing them to work together. Enabling your employees to connect on a deeper level can help them look past political differences.

  2. Encourage inter-mixing of colleagues.
    Hospital leaders can encourage staff to get to know each other without forcing it. If your hospital starts pressuring your staff to get to know each other through outings, people often end up hanging out in their own group rather than interacting with other groups, the report said. Instead, hospital leaders can seek out opportunities to mix co-workers who don't normally work together.

  3. Create a safe space.
    Enable a safe environment for people to share their opinions. Banning people from discussing politics doesn't work, the report said. Instead, encouraging open discussion can model for your employees how to respect political disagreements. It can also show your employees that it's possible to express controversial views without alienating co-workers who disagree.

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