Do political and social opinions belong in the office? People can’t even agree on that

The UK workforce is divided on whether political and social opinions belong in the office, according to a new report from HiBob. According to the poll commissioned for the report, half of UK professionals (53 percent) feel that respectful socio-political discourse in the workplace should be encouraged. However, the other half (45 percent) believe socio-political discussion should be kept out of the office, citing concerns over the impact on company culture. 

The majority of the two opposing sides however agree that socio-political discussions should be kept offline. Almost six in ten (59 percent) state a preference for conversations to be kept out of digital commutations channels for example, Slack, Teams or on email. For those in favour of socio-political opinions in the workplace, these conversations need to happen the right way. More than three in five (62 percent) of people say that socio-political topics need to be discussed in a safe space and include voicing opposing opinions respectfully.

Amongst all professionals, the research suggests significant concern around the ramifications of sharing political opinions at work. Almost two in five (38 percent) feel that sharing their opinions with their manager could harm their job and relationships, and nearly half (45 percent) feel the same about sharing opinions with a colleague.

Often less senior, young workers are most fearful about job impact (41 percent vs. 38 percent overall) and, as such, are more likely to indicate the need for a safe space for discussion. Men were revealed as the most likely to be concerned about political discussions harming working relationships (41 percent compared to 35 percent of women), as well as believing that strong opinions could impact their role and position at the company.

Half of people (53 percent) say that a organisation’s opposing political stance would deter them from accepting an offer to join that company. In addition, a quarter of workers (27 percent) state that a company’s opposing political stance would prompt them to leave a company they were currently working at.

Again, it’s the men who care most about this. Men are more likely to leave or refuse a job offer over opposing socio-political opinions with the employer. More than half (57 percent) feel it would be a deterrent from joining compared to 50 percent of women, and 45 percent of men say it would cause them to leave, compared to only 29 percent of women.