As an ESG battle rages through the corporate world, research* highlights disjointed employee opinions on the role of political and social opinions in the office. Results from the survey reveal that the UK workforce is divided on whether politics and social opinions belong on the office.
A nation divided
With the boundaries between work and personal life more blended that ever before, half of UK professionals (53%) feel that respectful socio-political discourse in the workplace should be encouraged, nurturing an inclusive and diverse company. However, the other half (45%) of Brits 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%) 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%) of people say that socio-political topics need to be discussed in a safe space and include voicing opposing opinions respectfully.
Harm to work and working relationships
Amongst all professionals, the research shows significant concern around the ramifications of sharing political opinions at work. Almost two in five (38%) feel that sharing their opinions with their manager could harm their job and relationships, and nearly half (45%) feel the same about sharing opinions with a colleague.
Often less senior, young workers are most fearful about job impact (41% vs. 38% 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% compared to 35% of women), as well as believing that strong opinions could impact their role and position at the company.
The political resignation
In the battle for talent, more than one in two workers (53%) say that a company’s opposing political stance will deter them from accepting an offer to join that company. In addition, a quarter of workers (27%) 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%) feel it would be a deterrent from joining compared to 50% of women, and 45% of men say it would cause them to leave, compared to only 29% of women.
Ronni Zehavi, CEO of HiBob comments, “Political discourse has become a prominent and vital aspect of our society, particularly among young people who make up a significant and growing percentage of the workforce. The days of keeping opinions to oneself, especially in the workplace, are fading away, as the importance of open dialogue becomes evident. While individuals remain conscious of speaking out, there is an undeniable desire to actively engage in political discussions.
“For organisations, it is imperative to recognise this shift and create an environment that encourages respectful debate. Safe spaces and clear freedoms must be established, allowing employees to express their perspectives without fear of repercussions. Embracing this change fosters a culture of inclusivity, where diverse voices are valued and contribute to a more informed and progressive workforce.”
Read the findings of the full report to gain more insights on professional’s opinions of socio-political opinions in the modern workplace.
*In January 2023, HiBob’s research department surveyed 2,000 professionals in the UK to help employers understand how their employees feel about political expression in the workplace, including if, where, and how discourse should be conducted.