When we hear the word politics, dirty, unscrupulous, under-the-table dealings often come to mind. Politics comprises of activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization.
Politics or power play is a very common feature in the workplace. This is often demonstrated when employees aspire to achieve something beyond their authority and control. They attempt to live up to these aspirations by forming relationships with those who have greater power and authority than themselves.
In doing so, their visibility increases and their hard work may be noticed more than usual. Since other employees may not see the work these individuals puts in, they may perceive this behaviour as simply cultivating favouritism amongst superiors. Workplace politics is essentially a manifestation of power dynamics among co-workers in an organization. Every employee naturally attempts to make progress in their career; their success often depends on how well they navigate and leverage their power within the status quo.
Dealing with office politics, both positive and negative, can weigh on employees mental health. One of the major aspects of an individual that is affected is their self-esteem. When an individual is unable to navigate their office politics and is thus not making progress in their career despite putting in a lot of hard work, they may begin to doubt themselves. This can affect the quality of their work, their confidence and their self-worth.
Some employees may experience anger and frustration seeing less experienced co-workers chosen for promotions over them, simply because their work was noticed more. This can be exhausting for a person’s mental resources, and they may develop a short temper and display extreme bursts of anger if their frustration continues to build without release.
Another common effect of prolonged workplace politics is demotivation. Employees may often feel as though there is no point in putting in the work if they are not going to be recognized for it. This could potentially result in a decrease in their performance and may cause them to quit in extreme cases.
People spend over a third of their day at the office, so building healthy relationships and forming a support system at the office is very important to their mental health. Having this support system can also help cope with office politics. When experiencing intense stress due to the power plays at the office, counselling can help. Counselling can give people deeper insights into the motives behind human behaviour, allowing them to be more rational in their responses. It can also help them develop a more stable sense of self, which will prevent them from feeling demotivated if they are having trouble navigating the political landscape at their workplace.