The political landscape over the last 2 years has changed drastically, and it doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon. Are you letting your political affiliation cloud your judgment when it comes to hiring candidates? You may not be, but potential candidates are—as 58% of respondents in a new survey would not interview at companies that publicly promoted political beliefs they did not support.
Randstad US has released results of a survey uncovering U.S. employees’ feelings and experiences with political discussions in the workplace, and how an employer’s approach to political issues can influence employee engagement and retention.
The data shows that while almost half (49%) of respondents enjoy talking politics with colleagues because it helps them understand other viewpoints, 53% admit they limit social interactions with coworkers who have differing political beliefs.
Political Viewpoints Can Drive Employees to Quit, or Seek New Jobs
Randstad US finds that 35% of respondents would leave their jobs if their direct managers held very different political views than their own and were publicly vocal about them.
While 58% of respondents would not interview at companies that publicly promoted political beliefs they did not support. Furthermore, 39% would take pay cuts to move to companies that promoted causes aligned with their political values.
More Divisiveness on Whether Employers Should Take a Stance on Political Issues
Forty-six percent of employees say it’s important for them to work for employers that take stands on controversial political issues. And 56% say it’s important that the charitable and/or corporate social responsibility causes their companies support reflect their own political values.
Randstad US also found that 53% want their employers to take public stands on LGBTQIA rights, 54% say they want their employers to take public stands on immigration policy, and 53% want their employers to take public stands on gun control policy.
Differences in Political Viewpoints Can Alienate Workers
When it comes to discussing politics in the workplace, 50% say their thoughts and feelings about colleagues have changed after discovering their political beliefs.
Forty-three percent have at least one colleague whose political views do not align with their own and have felt excluded at work as a result. Furthermore, 38% of employees believe they have experienced negative bias at work because of their political beliefs.
“Our study shows the topic of politics itself is extremely divisive in the workplace, reflecting our country’s current polarized political climate,” said Audra Jenkins, chief diversity and inclusion officer, Randstad North America. “It seems there’s no escaping politics, even on supposedly neutral ground, and unfortunately this can contribute to feelings of alienation as well as deteriorating relationships in the workplace.”
Jenkins adds, “Managers must pay close attention to workplace dynamics within their teams and be sure they’re promoting cultures that are inclusive and tolerant of a range of different political perspectives. Without a strategy in place, organizations run the risk of impacting their diversity and inclusion initiatives by creating another barrier that limits the diversity of thought.”
Politics Matter More to Millennials Than Other Generations
Breaking down the data by age, Randstad US finds that 55% of 25- to 34-year-olds believe they’ve experienced negative bias at work because of their political beliefs, versus just 23% of 50- to 64-year-olds.
A majority, 69% of Millennials say their thoughts and feelings about colleagues have changed after they’ve found out their political beliefs, compared to 50% of all workers. And surprisingly, 67% of Millennials say they’d quit their jobs over political differences with their bosses, versus just 15% of 50- to 64-year-olds.
“Today, the line between business and politics is becoming increasingly blurred as more and more companies take public stands on controversial issues, which simply wasn’t as common even a few years ago,” said Jenkins. “Our data shows employees are split on how politically engaged they want their companies to be—but many are hoping their employers will become more politically engaged, especially millennials. As the millennial generation rises in the ranks in the workplace, I expect we’ll see a shift in how companies manage their charitable and civic actions.”
Employers should foster an open dialogue and put guidelines governing political expression in place. And most importantly, never let your political beliefs get in the way of hiring top talent.