According to a recent survey conducted by SHRM [pdf], American workers cannot hide from politics at work.
- 42% of U.S. employees say they have personally experienced political disagreements at work
- 44% say they have witnessed political disagreements at work
- 34% believe that their workplace is not inclusive of differing political perspectives
- 12% report they have personally experienced political affiliation bias or discrimination based on their political views
- 56% state that political discussions at work have become more common over the past four years
Instead of banning these discussions, remind employees of your expectations regarding all workplace conversations — that they be civil, professional and respectful. And, if a co-worker violates these precepts you have the right to disengage and to go to a supervisor, management or HR to address the problem.
Political discussions need not be nasty, uncivil, or contemptuous, as long as we respect the rights of others to think differently, and hold them accountable when they fall short of this standard.