When Election Grief Dims Your Fire at Work, What Do You Do?

The office should be a safe space for political beliefs.
In this photo taken on May 9, 2022, supporters of presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo take part in a prayer vigil in the city of Naga, Camarines Sur province, south of Manila, after the final voting results of the presidential election.
Photo/s: Agence France-Presse

Angelo, an IT pofessional, just stared blankly at his monitor for most of his shift on May 10, the day the numbers confirmed that his bet for president, Leni Robredo, had lost by a landslide to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Since then, he's struggled to finish his daily tasks.

On the other side of the political fence, financial adviser Cherry shed tears of joy and celebrated with her colleagues when Marcos' win became apparent and has become more motivated at work.

“When VP Leni lost, I felt unmotivated to work. I had a chance to ask my colleagues the same question, and they were also sad and unmotivated that day,” 26-year-old Angelo told reportr.

Cherry recalled the excitement of watching her bet win. “Masaya kami. Ako naiyak sa bahay noong nasa 80% na ang bilang... Akala ko talaga dikit ang laban nila ni Leni kahit sa survey laging number one si BBM. Na-shock ako na ang daming nagmamahal sa kanya na Pinoy.

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It’s normal to feel happy or sad about the results of the elections, especially if a person invested so much emotion towards the candidate they supported. It becomes unhealthy, however, if it starts to affect how one’s lifestyle or productivity at work, a human resources practitioner said.

“When you have emotions, you have biases, your decision-making is affected. And even how you deal with other people, naaapektuhan yan,” human resources consultant Rhonadale Florentino told reportr.

“We cannot deny na talagang malaki ang naging impact doon sa trabaho lalo na yung mga sobrang nagpagod talaga, nag-aksaya ng oras nila for the different rallies and campaigns,” she added.

How election results affect work productivity

This year’s elections were very emotionally driven, with supporters from each camp investing their time, energy, and resources into their chosen candidate. That’s why when the voice of the majority is not in their favor, the feeling of hurt sets in, Florentino said.

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“One effect would be they would become short-sighted, they only see whatever’s immediate. If their candidate lost, ang nakikita nila is I am hurt,” she said.

Sa sobrang hindi nila matanggap yung resulta, they would say something along lines of, 'Ayoko na, alis na ako ng Pilipinas, huwag nating tulungan yung bumoto ng ibang kandidato,' because you are hurt,” she added.

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Same goes for people whose candidate won. The happiness is sometimes too much that they start gloating, Florentino said. “Sila parang, ‘Ah wala, talunan kayo,’ ganun naman yung nangyayari. Both short-sighted,” she added.

While people cannot be blamed for what they feel towards the election results, its impact on their work performance should not be set aside, the human resources consultant said.

Matindi yung nagiging epekto nun on how you do your work and even the quality of your work. Siyempre kapag masaya ka, quality is usually high. Kapag malungkot ka, quality is low,” she added.

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How do you deal with these emotions?

Whether your candidate won or lost, it’s important that you express your feelings in a safe environment. This way, you may be able to detach your emotions from your work and remain productive, Florentino said.

It's important that you are able to verbalize the emotions that you are feeling. Kapag nailabas mo na kasi yun, then that's the time that you would be able to move to the different stages of grief,” she said.

“You need to focus first on the people who have been with you during the campaign para kahit paano, hindi ka mahihiya na ilabas yung emotions mo,” she added.

The case is the same for those whose candidate won. Some of them might feel that they are not allowed to express their emotions out of fear of being judged, but this could only lead to another emotion: anger.

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Kailangan din nila mailabas yung happiness that they feel…. They also need people who would tell them that it's perfectly fine, you voted based on what you believed in,” Florentino said.

How can your manager help?

Managers should ensure that their company has a space for employees let out their post-election emotions so that these would not affect their workflow, Florentino said. These include counseling for those whose candidate lost to allow them to grieve.

But those with winning candidates should not be left out as well. The office should also be a place where employees who are happy for their candidates can feel no judgment, Florentino also said.

“You also need to highlight yung kabilang side, make them feel happy that they voted for someone without being judgmental,” she added.

Bosses should also avoid imposing their own political beliefs on their employees, much less refuse to hire potential candidates who voted for a different candidate, Florentino said, as this is bordering to work discrimination.

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“As manager, ang kailangan mong gawin after the elections is to make sure that you unite everybody. You have to take that initial step to let them know na, tapos na ang eleksyon, we have to process the emotions, and we need to help each other because at the end of the day, tayo yung magkakasama,” she added.

Should you resign?

IT professional Angelo said he is now looking for new opportunities abroad, worrying about what the economy would look like in the next six years. Cherry will stay put, happy to continue her work as a financial adviser.

As much as some people want it, it may be too early to shift to a new career at this point, Florentino said, considering the ongoing pandemic and the state of unemployment in the country.

“If your reason is kasi pakiramdam ko babagsak ang economy ng Pilipinas, mangingibang-bansa na lang ako, huwag natin papangunahan muna… At the end of the day, hindi pa naman kasi umuupo si BBM, at hindi pa naman niya nagagawa yung dapat niyang gawin,” she said.

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Also, don’t get too excited to resign and find work outside the country right away, Florentino said.

“There will always be hope if you are here in the Philippines. Mawawala lang yung pag-asa na magbago ang Pilipinas kapag karamihan ng mga Pilipino ay aalis dahil lang sa ayaw nila ng pamamalakad. Sino na ang lalaban?” she said.

So kalma, huwag masyadong matakot. It's okay to have some fear, but don't let that fear create a narrative for you na hindi pa naman nangyayari,” she added.

Rhonadale Florentino is a human resources consultant and strategist who serves as CEO and President of UpRush Social Geekers, an HR consultancy company. Access their services here.


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