More than 1 in 5 U.S. workers discuss politics at work: Survey

Discussions have led to fights, heated conversations over political views
||Last Updated: 03/01/2012

As one of the most anticipated and contentious presidential races in the United States moves forward, employers may find the most vocal political pundits in the next cubicle, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.

Thirty-six per cent of workers reported they discuss politics at work and 43 per cent expect they will be talking about this year's presidential election with co-workers, found the survey of more than 7,000 workers in the U.S.

While most conversations around politics were good-natured or even-tempered, 23 per cent of workers who have discussed politics at work reported they had a heated discussion or fight with a co-worker, boss or someone else higher up in the organization. One in 10 workers said their opinion about a co-worker changed after they discovered that person's political affiliation, with most stating it changed for the negative, found the survey.

Men were more likely to share political opinions or commentary at the office. Forty-four per cent of men discuss politics at work compared to 28 per cent of women. Men were also more likely to report an altercation with a co-worker over opposing political views — 25 per cent compared to 19 per cent of women.

Workers age 55 and older were the most likely to discuss politics at work (43 per cent) while those under the age of 25 were the least likely (25 per cent).

"Most workers opt to keep political debates outside of the workplace," said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Anytime you're dealing with subject matter that is sensitive or potentially inflammatory, it's important to always be respectful of your colleagues' opinions and avoid emotionally-charged exchanges."

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