Midterms are approaching – but employees don’t want to talk about it

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With November’s midterm elections less than a month away, politics may be a priority for many — but a majority of employees interviewed by Insight Global said they would rather not discuss politics at work lest such discussions lead to increased tension.

The survey results, released on Tuesday, may indicate a “growing concern” about how political discussions affect workplace 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 midterm reviews would do raise the tension.

However, the sentiment may vary by age, the survey notes. Nearly half of Gen Z and Gen Y employees surveyed said they were inclined to engage in political conversations.

Observers have noted growing political unrest in the workplace for some time. Just under half of HR professionals surveyed in 2020 by the Society for Human Resource Management reported “increased political instability” at workcompared to 26% saying the same in 2016, especially compared to previous elections.

In that same survey, 80% of HR professionals surveyed said their organizations had not established guidelines for political speech in the workplace – and a more recent Gartner report showed that such tension can still be a problem. One in four organizations surveyed by Gartner in July said they had provided no resources to help employees deal with workplace tensions, even amid growing political and social upheaval. This survey was published following the United States Supreme Court’s decision that ended Roe vs. Wade‘s protections for access to abortion.

Rejecting political discussions at work entirely may not be the right answer for many companies, especially since younger workers are more susceptible to it; when Basecamp has announced its apolitical position in 2021, a number of employees left. An expert who spoke to HR Dive in June said employers might be better off teaching workers skills to deal with differing opinions in the workplace – before they ‘weaponise’ differences against each other.

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