With the November midterms less than a month away, politics may be top of mind for many — but a majority of employees surveyed by Insight Global said they would prefer not to talk about politics at work out of fear such discussions would lead to increased tension.
The survey results, released Tuesday, may point to “growing concern” over how political discussions affect work culture, Insight Global said. Eighty-five percent of employees surveyed said they wanted work to be a “politics-free” zone, and nearly three-quarters said they were worried that discussions about the midterms would raise tension.
However, sentiment may vary by age, the survey noted. Close to half of Generation Z and millennial employees surveyed said they were inclined to engage in political conversations.
Observers have noted rising political agitation in the workplace for some time. Just under half of HR pros surveyed in 2020 by the Society for Human Resource Management reported “intensified political volatility” at work, compared to 26% saying the same in 2016, especially compared to prior elections.
In that same survey, 80% of HR pros surveyed said their organizations hadn’t set guidelines regarding political talk at work — and a more recent Gartner report showed that such tension may still be still a problem. One in four organizations surveyed by Gartner in July said they hadn’t provided any resources to help employees deal with workplace tension even amid rising political and social upheaval. That survey was released in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended Roe v. Wade’s protections for abortion access.
Entirely nixing political talk at work may not be the right answer for many companies, especially since younger workers are more attuned to it; when Basecamp announced its apolitical stance in 2021, a number of employees left. One expert who spoke with HR Dive in June said that employers may be better off teaching workers skills to cope with differing opinions in the workplace — before they “weaponize” differences against each other.