A new study from human resources firm Randstad finds that while a majority of U.S. workers are comfortable discussing politics in the workplace, many are wary of the consequences these discussions can have when they become heated.
The results come from over 800 respondents across the nation, and uncovered some surprising facts.
65% of employees say that they’re comfortable discussing politics with their coworkers, and over a third say they’ve changed their opinions based on a politic conversation with colleagues.
While that number is encouraging, other results from the survey show that many remain cautious about things getting too heated. 55% of those surveyed say they’ve seen heated political discussions at work, with 38% saying they’ve been personally involved in such discussions. 47% said they feel the need to hide political beliefs to fit in with senior leaders.
“Managers must pay close attention to workplace dynamics within their teams and be sure they’re promoting cultures that are inclusive and tolerant of a range of different political perspectives,” says Randstad’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Audra Jenkins. “Without a strategy in place, organizations run the risk of impacting their diversity and inclusion initiatives by creating another barrier that limits the diversity of thought.”
Still, respectful dialogue can lead to a healthy intellectual environment at the office. 49% of respondents say that they enjoyed talking politics with colleagues because it helped them understand other viewpoints.
Furthermore, companies themselves are facing pressure to take stances on particular issues. Over half of respondents said they want their employer to take public stands on LGBTQ rights, immigration policy, and gun control. 58% would not interview at a company that publicly promoted beliefs they did not support.
“The need for healthy and civil dialogue is more important today than ever before in our history,” says Convene CEO Ryan Simonetti. “If we can’t have those conversations with those we are close to, how can we expect to have it as country? All perspectives need to be truly heard.”
“And most importantly: get out and vote!”