Off-Topic Conversations at Work: A New Endangered Species

Oct 19, 2021 | Articles

Source: HR Daily Advisor
Author: Jared Glasser, Writer

Advanced technology can often be associated with changing times and evolving industries. As the pandemic intensified organizations’ reliance on technology, with Zoom meetings replacing meetings in the boardroom, virtual gatherings replacing in-person events, and other technological transformations, companies are on the path toward becoming unrecognizable from years prior. With topics now being welcomed in the office that used to be considered inappropriate, the feeling workers have toward expressing themselves may be even more unrecognizable.

Because organizations have become more aware of the importance of mental health, they are finding that one of the best retention strategies is to build an environment where employees feel free to open up about the struggles that are holding them back. If employees are afraid to share their emotions or worrisome aspects of their jobs, organizations run the risk of losing them to companies with better culture and a more understanding atmosphere.


While discussing politics at the office used to be unheard of, the rhetoric of political discourse can leave many deeply troubled in ways that are hard to ignore. Disturbing headlines popping up on our phones unexpectedly could easily affect mental health, and employers must find ways to accommodate this. Going back into the world after a negative news story has just broken out could present immense challenges. If employees aren’t able to discuss how the news bothers them, they may feel the burden of having no outlet for their frustrations.


Although discussing salaries in the workplace was once forbidden, this topic has become more acceptable through the pandemic, as many workers received more money on unemployment than they did working their regular jobs. Therefore, the virus left many rethinking their salaries in ways they never had before, and this became a nationally discussed aspect of the virus. Now, employers’ expecting their employees to keep a lid on pay discussions could be seen as a way to prevent them from knowing who is paid significantly more for very similar roles. If employees feel money discussions are unwelcome, they may feel unwelcome themselves.

Emotional Topics

A plethora of people have expressed themselves over highly emotional issues in the last few years. The #MeToo movement sparked a long-overdue national conversation about the harassment experienced by women, and Black Lives Matter ignited conversations about many aspects of race relations, including how people experience racial bias every day at work. The national discourse features conversations on anxiety and depression like never before. Topics that have been highly relevant in people’s lives are now part of open and honest conversations hoping to improve the world around us. Conversations that may have made some feel uncomfortable now make others feel empowered.

Employees have discovered a new sense of what they will accept in this great resignation, and organizations must realize that retention matters now like never before. Making the office a place where your employees want to work post-COVID should include embracing open dialogue on sensitive subjects rather than brushing it aside.

Jared Glasser is a writer focusing on employment issues.

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