With a tightly-contested and historic presidential election under way, political discussions are expected to heat up at water coolers in offices around the country. But according to a new survey from American Management Association (AMA) on politics and the workplace, employees are decidedly mixed about sharing political views with their colleagues and bosses.
More than one-third (35%) of the business people surveyed said they are uncomfortable discussing their political views with colleagues, while 39 percent said they are comfortable, and 25 percent of respondents said they were neutral about sharing their political opinions. Forty percent, however, are comfortable talking about politics with their supervisors, 38 percent are uncomfortable and 22 percent are neutral.
While political chatter at work is expected during a presidential election year, the AMA survey shows that most employees are not campaigning in the office for their favorites. Ninety-two percent of respondents said that no one from their company—either management or labor—has recommended voting for a particular candidate because it would benefit the organization. This reveals a slight decrease from AMA’s 2004 survey on the same subject, in which 13 percent of respondents confirmed that someone from their company recommended a particular candidate. In the current study, only 7 percent actually confirmed someone recommended voting for a particular candidate.
This lack of activism held true in spite of lenient policies about politics in the office. More than half (57%) of senior executives surveyed said that no written policy exists prohibiting the distribution or posting of material endorsing a political party or candidate.
Companies as a whole also are staying away from endorsing political favorites or parties. More than three-fourths (79%) of senior executives said that their company does not contribute to a particular political party. However, they are not spending a lot of energy communicating this point, as almost two-thirds (65%) of employees cannot say whether their company contributes to a particular political party.
Conducted in association with NFI Research, the results are based on responses from 701 senior executives, managers and employees from organizations within a variety of industries. The complete AMA 2008 Political Discussions in the Workplace Survey is available on the American Management Association Web site at www.amanet.org/research
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