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SHRM Survey: Political Volatility at Work Increases While More Than Half of Organizations Are Offering Paid Time Off to Vote

ALEXANDRIA, Va., October 21, 2020 — As Americans prepare to cast their ballot during a pandemic, a new SHRM survey (Society for Human Resource Management) shows that 52 percent of organizations are offering employees paid time off to vote and that political volatility has increased in this election year. The research, surveying American workers and HR professionals, examined the resources offered by employers ahead of November 3, as well as how organizations are managing political tensions and offering time off from work to go vote.

Key findings include:

  • Fifty-two percent of HR professionals report their organization will offer paid time off to vote; however, far fewer American workers (23%) are aware of this offering.
  • Similarly, 16 percent of American workers say their organization provides unpaid time off to vote while 30 percent of HR professionals say their organization offers this benefit.

  • Compared to previous years, 44 percent of HR professionals report intensified political volatility at work in 2020; in 2016, only 26 percent reported increased political volatility compared to prior elections.

  • Seventy-four percent of HR professionals say their organization has prohibited political attire or accessories (i.e. endorsing or opposing political candidates, parties, social movements).

"Eighty percent of HR professionals say their organizations have not set guidelines on communicating about politics at work—and that's a problem," said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "Organizations need to proactively set clear and consistent guidelines—aligned with their mission and values—on what is and isn't acceptable behavior at work. With 17 percent of workers reporting being uncomfortable working with colleagues who hold different political views, their leaders can help reduce tension and discomfort to create a better workplace."

The survey also found American workers (32 percent) are worried about how the election's outcome will impact their workplace; 25 percent say they feel the 2020 election is causing more political division than the 2016 election; and 41 percent say their organization discourages employees from discussing politics while at work.

Media: Contact Cooper Nye at and 703-535-6447 or Mallory Flynn at and 703-535-6082 to schedule an interview. 


U.S. Worker Survey: A sample of 1,005 Americans was surveyed using the Amerispeak Omnibus, NORC at the University of Chicago's probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. The survey was administered Friday, September 11 to Sunday, September 13, 2020. Of the 1,005 Americans surveyed, 547 were either working as a paid employee or laid off or furloughed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the purposes of this survey, we refer to this group as "employed Americans." All data was weighted to reflect the U.S. adult population.

U.S. Human Resources Survey: A survey was fielded to a random sample of 50,000 SHRM members from September 16 to September 28, 2020. Of the 667 members who started the survey, 487 met the requirements that they currently worked for an organization and completed the survey in full.

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


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