Boardroom briefing: office politicking, mental health and COVID and telling the truth in a job interview


Talking politics in the office, COVID mental health impact and how to tell if a job candidate is lying. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Should you talk politics with your colleagues?

Credit: Joe Biden via Instagram

With the US election a hot topic today, and a potentially eventful sitting of PNG Parliament just around the corner, CNN Business has an interesting piece on The Rules of Talking Politics at Work.

On the employee side, CNN suggests you be careful about being too political in the workplace; issues such as employment policies might be suitable for workplace chatter but social issues are more dangerous ground and it is best to steer clear of them.

If your boss starts to talk politics it can be risky, too. ‘Do the best you can just to get out of the conversation,’ said Kristin Alden, an employment attorney. ‘Say as little as humanly possible.’

If the manager says something that makes you uncomfortable, whether it is racially insensitive or leaves you feeling pressured to agree with a certain political viewpoint, she recommends making a confidential complaint to the human resources department.

Politics, like a lot of your personal life, is best left at home.

The next pandemic on the horizon

BBC Worklife looks at the possible long-term mental health issue that may plague employees long after the COVID-19 pandemic has been tamed. The virus, and the subsequent lockdowns, have produced a wave of social anxiety and germophobia that is impacting how people head back out into the world after lockdowns are eased. That includes returning to work.

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The report quotes Steven Taylor, a professor in psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, argues that ‘for an unfortunate minority of people, perhaps 10 to 15 per cent, life will not return to normal,’ due to the impact of the pandemic on their mental wellbeing.

Australia’s Black Dog Institute, a leading independent mental-health research organisation, has also raised concerns about ‘a significant minority who will be affected by long-term anxiety’. In the UK, a group of leading public health specialists recently warned in the British Medical Journal that ‘the mental health impact of the pandemic is likely to last much longer than the physical health impact.’

And employers will need to be sensitive to these issues if they are to transition their workers back to the workplace correctly.

Truth detection in job interviews

Credit: Seek via Instagram

We have all exaggerated a little in our quest to find a new job, but how can you tell if a candidate is lying during an interview?

Australian Jobseeker website Seek found that ’59 per cent of Australians don’t think it’s acceptable to lie in an interview – which still leaves more than two in five who would lie.’

The most common lies are around skills, a candidate’s previous salary, or their reasons for leaving their former place of employment.

Encouraging truth is as important as detecting lies, says Elly Johnson a former police officer and a truth and deception expert. ‘It’s not so much always about spotting deception – it’s also about creating a truth-telling environment,’ she says, adding that, once deception starts, it is hard to backtrack.

‘If you want truth from someone, then you have to be transparent as well,’ she says. This could mean acknowledging challenges in your business, not just the great things. Be authentic and genuine in the way you talk about the role and business.

Give a little truth and you might get a little truth back in return.

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