BOISE -- It’s tempting to talk about the upcoming presidential election at work, especially if you’re friends with your co-workers. It’s hard to process everything we’re hearing.
But it’s hard to tell whether it’s OK to talk about politics at work. Even if you’ve taken hours of HR training, it’s not clear what’s allowed, especially with some of the issues that have come up in this year’s election. So Idaho Business Review asked Dylan Eaton, an attorney who specializes in employment law at Parsons Behle & Latimer, to clear up a few things in advance of Nov. 8.
It turns out many workers want to sort through the rhetoric and the bombast with my co-workers. According to a CareerBuilder survey that Dylan used in a recent presentation, more than a third of workers talk about politics at work. The survey was carried out in 2012, the year President Barack Obama and his running mate Vice President Joe Biden defeated Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Among the people who said they talked about politics at work, about 23 percent, or one in five, said the conversation led to a “heated work exchange” or fight.
That ratio of one in five would probably be higher if people took up the topic of the presidential race in the office this year. In fact, a survey this year by the Society of Human Resources Management found that more than a quarter of the organizations they surveyed perceived more political volatility in the office this year compared with previous election cycles.
The SHRM survey says 72 percent of organizations discourage political activity at work. But most don’t have a written policy on the subject – just a quarter of organizations do, according to SHRM.
For those who don’t, this might be a good time to dust off the HR manual and add a few paragraphs about campaigning and discussing politics at work.
For more on this story, see the full Idaho Business Review column.
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