Politics In The Workplace Might Be Hurting Company Culture, According To A Recent Survey By eLearning Industry
Is discussing politics in the workplace bad? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Imagine how many opportunities arise when business politics align with your target audience. However, if you’re considering taking a stand on a hot topic as a business, there are some things you need to consider.
First, you should do thorough research to get the process right and ensure that your stand aligns with your company values and vision. Also, what do your employees think? Are they on board, or is your decision to take a stand far from what your organization claims to represent? Being able to have genuine discussions about things that matter is crucial. Thus, you need to find ways to create a safe working environment where your people can share their opinions freely without conflict.
To answer all these questions, we decided to run a survey and find out how important gaining employee buy-in is when discussing politics in the workplace. Any backlash for your announcement will most certainly reach employees. So, you must make sure your views align with your employees.
After this read, you’ll get all the tips you need to have a crisis plan in place if things go sideways.
Let’s get a little deeper into the workplace politics survey.
Discussing Politics At Work Survey Background And Results
As an election year approaches in the US, conversations about politics and political beliefs are bound to trickle into the workplace. While some believe these conversations are important to have, others feel uncomfortable or unprofessional discussing these challenging topics and issues with colleagues.
This survey tries to help navigate employees’ thoughts on discussing politics at work, feelings about their employer’s stance on political issues, politics’ impact on company culture, and more. Some of the key findings include the following.
1. Leaders And Companies Don’t Quite Get The “Politics” Of Politics Right In The Workplace
When it comes to politically charged events, such as social justice issues, Supreme Court rulings, elections, and climate change, businesses struggle to decide if they should respond or not respond. Our data finds that half (49%) of employees say their employer has spoken out or made a public statement about politically charged events—but it missed the mark. Public statements made tend to conflict with employees’ values and beliefs, as 41% of employees say they usually disagree with the statements their company has made, and nearly two in five (38%) say they felt embarrassed by the statements made.
Employees aren’t aligned with employers’ statements because they aren’t even considered or asked for their opinion, with nearly three in four (72%) of employees admitting their employer did not ask for their opinion before making those statements. This highlights a major disconnect between employees’ and employers’ political beliefs and values.
Beyond not asking for employee feedback or opinions from workers during politically charged events, employers aren’t giving employees a way to openly share their political beliefs and opinions at work, as just one in three (33%) employees say their company has a political expression policy in place.
2. Politics Create “Inauthentic” Cultures
Despite companies claiming their prioritization of culture and community, over half of the employees surveyed reported that they do not discuss their political beliefs at work because it is still deemed unprofessional. Furthermore, if it has been publicly discussed, only 35% of employees say their political beliefs align with those of their employers.
Additionally, when conversations about politics happen on the job, they commonly turn hostile. Of the employees who have discussed politics within the workplace, 64% have seen or engaged in politics-based arguments among coworkers.
This sense of secrecy and disagreement can harm company culture and cause employees to feel isolated. In fact, more than a quarter (29%) feel so uncomfortable that they have previously lied about their political opinion in order to feel welcomed within their work environment.
3. Politics Can Make Or Break Employee Longevity And Retention
Employees are worried that revealing their political beliefs at work could change the way coworkers and managers see them. For example, over half (55%) of employees fear that sharing their political views could harm their relationships with colleagues, and 45% say revealing their political beliefs could hurt their chances at promotion and change their manager’s opinion of them.
However, employees are not as judgmental about their leaders’ political beliefs, considering only 18% would ask to change teams or leave their job if their voting history did not align with their manager’s.
Navigating toxic work environments is key for business leaders. And it’s something that should cause you to take action.
So, should you talk about politics in the workplace or not? Many HR professionals might answer with a firm “no” since the fallout might break coworker relationships and even result in allegations of harassment or discrimination.
Here are a few steps you can take to handle discussing politics at the workplace.
1. Create A Policy That Meets Compliance Standards
Undoubtedly, there are subjects that employees can avoid discussing in the workplace. Sure, there are times when there’s space for healthy debates, but different views often lead to unhealthy disagreements. Creating a policy might work as a safe blanket on what is accepted in your organization, when, and for which topics. You don’t have to ban workplace politics as a topic of discussion, but when done under certain compliance standards, you can avoid evoking emotions that can hurt your culture. You can discuss politics at work without being overly restrictive.
2. Mitigate The Effects Of Bias And Ask For Feedback
Completely eradicating personal biases is a utopia. However, when you offer your employees the proper structure and instruction, your team can face the effects of biases in crucial areas like hiring and performance management. For example, by checking resumes and reading between the lines, you can understand whether a person fits your culture. The same goes for when you interview them. You can always test and evaluate existing biases and decide if you want to risk bringing an individual who is prone to bias in your company.
Similarly, you can keep a record of performance data from evaluations (e.g., self, peer, and manager) for a fair decision-making process. Taking a stand can strengthen brand loyalty among consumers. And in most cases, it can positively impact your brand value. So, if your company wants to take a stand, asking for employee feedback before making any announcements is wise. Hundreds of employees might work for you, but that doesn’t mean they all agree with what you stand for. Running employee satisfaction surveys is a good solution to clear the air and see how happy your employees are with the way you’re doing business.
3. Deal With Workplace Conflict
If your employees value having strong opinions and talking politics at work more than avoiding workplace conflict, clearly, something is wrong. But there are ways you can help individuals to improve social skills and become better teammates. By teaching your employees the principles of emotional intelligence, you can build better teams and improve collaboration. For example, you can focus on improving these pillars: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. When you explore concepts like empathy and motivation with managers and employees, you can encourage people to have better conversations, even if they disagree.
4. Make Your Business More Inclusive
Of course, one of the first things you should consider is providing safe spaces for employees. Also, offering multiple channels for raising complaints and feedback would be great. Another idea could be to take measures at the beginning of the employee journey, so having an inclusive recruitment policy might be ideal. First and foremost, encourage staff to engage with peers. Plus, you must ensure you have a place where people can destress when overstimulation hits. That will be particularly helpful for any neurodiverse employees. In addition, you should be able to accommodate employees with disabilities and their special equipment. Finally, if things need fixing, consider offering diversity training for all employees, and remember to create employee support networks.
Sooner than later, you must understand that encouraging employees to focus on what matters most is a better strategy for your business. Make sure to help teams develop emotional intelligence to work well together. Most importantly, start building your core company values. And to do that, you’ll also need to find out what employees want and need from your organization.
Then, you can train your current and new employees to abide by these values. That way, you’ll bring stability to your culture in the long run. Best of all, you won’t have to sacrifice diversity or expression.