As the U.S. nears the 2020 election, conversations around politics are at an all-time high and according to new data from Perceptyx, the employee insights platform, the workplace is no exception. Perceptyx’s survey of over 3,000 working Americans found nearly 7 out of 10 employees have discussed politics with a co-worker in the last year, and more than 40 percent revealed that they have had both a political disagreement at work and that a co-worker has tried to persuade them to change their political party.
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“We often think of politics as a taboo topic – along with money and religion – however it turns out partisan conversations are happening regularly in the workplace, and the impact of those is greater than one might think,” said Brett Wells, Ph.D., Director of People Analytics at Perceptyx. “From organizations’ support for voting to potential retaliation for those with differing views, the results of our survey found real implications that stretch beyond the election itself.”
When it comes to voting, many enterprise companies have publicly pledged to support their employees by providing information, reminders, and paid time off to cast their ballots. In fact, over two-thirds of respondents report their company encourages their employees to vote, the impact of which can’t be ignored. Ninety percent of employees at companies who encourage their employees to vote intend to do so, while just 72 percent of those without support say the same. This support goes beyond the election, and is indicative to the overall health of the organization. Companies who encourage their employees to vote have a higher percentage of employees who would recommend their company as a good place to work (86% vs. 59%) and have a higher percentage of employees who intend to stay at their company for at least the next 12 months (83% vs. 63%).
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Talking politics also has an impact on organizations, as nearly half of those surveyed report their manager talks openly about supporting a specific candidate in the 2020 presidential election. The effect of this depends on whether their employees share similar beliefs. When comparing employers that are aligned politically vs. those who aren’t, those who share the same political leanings are more likely to actively share their political beliefs at work (75% vs. 31%), feel supported by their manager in making decisions about their health and well-being (86% vs. 60%), feel their manager supports their efforts to balance work and personal life (82% vs. 65%), feel their manager cares about them as a person (85% vs. 69%), and believes their workplace is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work (81% vs. 64%).
Nearly half (46%) of employees who don’t agree, or who aren’t sure, worry they would be treated differently if they openly disagreed with their manager’s political beliefs, while 53 percent believe discussing politics at work could negatively impact their career opportunities.
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