UK employees more likely to discuss politics in the office since Brexit

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UK employees more likely to discuss politics in the office since Brexit

Since the Brexit referendum just under half of UK employees have noticed a large increase in the number of political discussions at the office.

This is according to Jobsite, a UK jobs board which found that 46 per cent of UK employees reported an increase in the number of political discussions at work.

Jobsite feels that this is a drastic change considering discussing politics used to be seen as a “professional faux pas”.

A majority of 60 per cent feel comfortable discussing such matters at work. This has paved the way to discuss other topics as well.

Workers now feel comfortable discussing climate change at 74 per cent, President Trump at 66 per cent, former President Obama at 68 per cent and the recent Conservative Party leadership contest at 64 per cent.

Employees are most comfortable discussing these subjects with colleagues (50 per cent), however, 27 per cent are willing to talk to their manager about it as well as 23 per cent talking about these subjects to someone more senior than them.

Brexit chat in the office has even overshadowed this year’s Love Island.

Still, there seems to be a difference when looking at results from across the pond. Over a third of US workers (38 per cent) see politics as a taboo subject in the office and 51 per cent admit to holding back when discussing political views.  Also 27 per cent feel that speaking about politics in the workplace should be banned.

In the UK, only 17 per cent do not mention their political outlook, with 43 per cent of employees holding back on certain issues.

Just under a fifth (19 per cent) of Conservative voters and 25 per cent of Brexit party supporters do not feel their political views should be shared with the office.

Only 15 per cent feel that an employer must have a similar political opinion to themselves. This does change quite dramatically when looking at 25-34-year-olds as 50 per cent feel their employers should have aligned political opinions with themselves.

Alexandra Sydney, marketing director at Jobsite said:

We’ve all heard ‘don’t talk religion or politics in the office’ but given the current pace of the global politics, this is often easier said than done. Employees have a right to free speech and their own opinions about political and social events. The exception is, of course, where hateful language takes the place of everyday debate. Ultimately, it’s in employers’ interests to cultivate a workforce of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, but also an environment where all employees feel they can express themselves.

With that comes a responsibility to prevent potential debates in the workplace from getting out of hand. It’s not unreasonable for a manager to intervene and de-escalate conversations which see colleagues distracted from work or that which has the potential to impact operations. By maintaining an open-minded and accessible work environment, companies can ensure they’re well-adapted and better equipped to attract candidates from the widest possible pool of talent.

The research was conducted by market research company, Opinium between the 10th and 12th July 2019 with responses from 2,003 part-time and full-time workers in the UK and 1,012 part-time and full-time workers in the US.

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