Workers ignore the old adage to never discuss politics

24 February 2015
  • 85% of UK employees are reported to be discussing politics in the workplace
  • Expressing political allegiance is no longer seen as a workplace taboo - just 7% of HR directors think making political preferences known impacts how an employee is treated by management or colleagues
  • London employees are the most likely to discuss politics at work

London, 24 February, 2015 – New research1 from leading recruitment specialist Robert Half UK reveals that workplace discussions on politics are heating up in the run up to this year’s General Election.  According to the study, 85% of employees are reported as discussing politics in the workplace, with one-in-seven (15%) discussing Government issues on a daily basis.   

The study shows that expressing a political allegiance is no longer seen as a workplace faux pas in the private sector.  Just 7% of HR directors think making a political preference known can influence how an employee is treated by management or colleagues.  A further 80% of HR directors believe that politics will be discussed with greater frequency as a result of the General Election.

There is, however, a divergence between public and private sector attitudes to expressing a political allegiance in the workplace.  In the public sector revealing a party preference is viewed as twice as likely (11%) to result in negative treatment from colleagues and management compared to the private sector (5%).

Phil Sheridan, UK Managing Director of Robert Half, commented: “With the General Election fast approaching, the political and news agenda is rightfully on the minds of Britons, and this can easily permeate workplace discussions. While office politics chit-chat is becoming less of a taboo than it once was, it can still prove to be a sensitive subject. While it may be tempting to re-hash the election debates in the lunch room, having consideration and respect for colleagues’ personal views and comfort is always a sound career move.”

Regional findings:

London leads the way when it comes to chatting politics during office hours.  According to HR Directors in the capital,  93% report their  employees chat about Government policy in the workplace, in the Midlands this falls to 78%.  In Scotland, 91% report their employees discuss politics at work, perhaps as a result of the legacy of the referendum. In comparion, 85% report it in the North of England and 81% for those in Wales and the South West.  

Ends

Notes to editors

1 The bi-annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location. 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.