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Political Volatility in the Workplace Rises as Election Day Approaches

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The workplace is not immune from the rising volume of rhetoric from the presidential campaign.

After a May survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that political volatility was affecting some workplaces, SHRM repeated survey questions in October to determine whether Campaign 2016 was continuing to have an impact.

“As we approach Election Day, tension from the presidential election has spilled into the workplace,” says Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of workforce analytics.

“More than one-half of organizations indicated that there is greater political volatility in the workplace in this presidential election compared to others,” she reports. “This was double the percentage that said there was greater volatility in May of this year.”

SHRM surveyed randomly selected HR professionals across the country.

When asked to elaborate, 70 percent of respondents said employees were more concerned (candidates seem unfit; overall dissatisfaction) regarding the candidates than in previous election years. Sixty percent said employees were more vocal about their opinions, and 5 percent said employees have violated their organization's policy on political activities.

The survey also examined whether companies encouraged employees to vote and whether employees were given time off to vote:

  • 72 percent of HR professionals indicated their organizations discouraged political activities in the workplace.
  • 24 percent of organizations had a written (i.e., formal) policy on political activities, and 8% had an unwritten (i.e., informal) policy.
  • 86 percent of professionals indicated their organizations allowed employees to take either paid (53% percent) or unpaid (33 percent) time off to vote.

View an infographic detailing the results.

The inspiration for the October research — the Policies on Politics in the Workplace Survey, which was conducted in May and released in June — is available online

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