June 26th, 2017

Trump Effect on U.S. Workplace Relationships: 2017 WBI U.S. Survey


2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey: Trump Toxicity


46% believe the brutish 2016 election campaigns negatively impacted the workplace

The U.S. is unique among nations in the world when it comes to electing its political leaders. Candidates for the highest office, the President, spend nearly two years campaigning for the four-year post. The run-up to the election of November 2016 for President and members of Congress began in 2015. Media coverage was amplified by three major cable networks devoted nearly entirely to political campaigning. The role of social media online also drove the themes during the seemingly endless two years.

The saturation coverage magnified flaws in candidates. There was an unprecedented amount of rancor among candidates on the Republican side. Veteran Republican candidates seemed to coalesce into an anti-Trump coalition. Over the two years, Donald Trump showed a willingness to behave in a non-normative manner. There were several episodes during which his personal vulgarity was exposed. However, he paid no political penalty for these foibles. His shortcomings, read by most as evidence of bullying with a narcissistic flair, encouraged his supporters.

Pundits and commenters lamented the coarsening of political campaigns. Before the election, with nearly two years exposure to bullying and disrespect exhibited at the highest level, school bullying researchers noted the increase in aggression among school age children.

Ultimately, Trump was rewarded, not sanctioned, for his conduct. He had modeled bullying and given license for others to forego norms of interpersonal civility and kindness.

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

This survey question asked the entire sample [N = 1,008] to opine about whether the American workplace had been influenced by the two-year bombardment of bullying messages manifested during the long electoral campaign.

Wording of the Question: How did the presidential and congressional elections of 2016 affect relationships in American workplaces?


We eliminated the “not sure” respondents [N = 752] to calculate the above percentages. Of those respondents who had an opinion, as Table 13 shows, 46% of Americans say that the brutish campaigns leading to the 2016 election did negatively impact the workplace.

Combining the two “no effect” response classes with the “improved” and the “worsened” responses suggests that 61% of Americans think that the current state of relationships among workers is bad.

American society at the time of this survey is politically polarized. Zogby Analytics provides WBI with several demographic measures of the survey sample. One variable is the respondents’ self-described political affiliation. The Trump effect seems dependent on that affiliation. Republicans perceive the election as positive for the workplace as negative. Whereas Democrats see little improvement and mostly decline in interpersonal relations as the result of the election.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Elections (Trump) Effect findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 26th, 2017 at 12:52 pm and is filed under WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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