Do politics and work mix?

by Stephanie Zillman06 Nov 2012

The US presidential race is in its final days, and new research has revealed that far from what HR may assume, employees actually want their employers to discuss politics at work.

According to data compiled by the US-based Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), there is a popular view that employers who communicate political issues to employees are corrupting the democratic process. Yet according to survey results, this notion is inconsistent with the views of employees themselves.

“Our data suggests that employees overwhelmingly support the notion of employer-provided issue and political information. Employees not only want more information from their employer about issues that affect their livelihoods, they tend to believe their employers over other sources,” Gregory Casey from BIPAC wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

According to a 2010 poll commissioned by BIPAC and performed by Moore Information, Inc., overall, it was consistently and conclusively found that employed voters believed it was beneficial for their employers to communicate policies of political parties which were favourable to their industry.
“In 2010, 46% of employed voters said they wish their employer ‘would let him/her know how government and political issues impact his/her job, company and industry’,” Casey cited in his report.

Yet the communication of political policy information has the potential for bias, and employers must recognise that employees overwhelmingly trust what their employers tell them. The poll also revealed that 60% of employees who got such information from their employer ‘found it helpful when deciding to vote.’ “Employers should never tell employees how to vote. However, that doesn't mean that employers (or organised labour) can't have a point of view,” Casey said.

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