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Which Age Groups Like to Talk Politics at Work?

crowd hoisting American flags

Millennial and Generation Z employees have different viewpoints than their Generation X and Baby Boomer colleagues about discussing politics in the workplace.

Sixty percent of Millennial (ages 35-44) and 58 percent of Generation Z workers (ages 25-34) said they “sometimes” or “frequently” talk politics at work, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. workers by ResumeHelp. Meanwhile, just 41 percent of Generation X (ages 45-54) and 40 percent of Baby Boomer respondents (ages 54 or older) said the same.

“Millennials and Gen Zers have grown up in the age of social media, where publicly expressing opinions is the norm,” said María Correa, a career expert at ResumeHelp. “I think that lends itself to them being less self-conscious about it in the workplace, too.”

Correa explained that young workers care deeply about politics because they tend to be passionate and idealistic about social issues—and the last few election cycles have been rife with debates over reproductive rights, racial relations, LGBTQ+ issues and climate change concerns.

“I think young people, in particular, see these issues as directly impacting their futures,” she said.

Although younger employees are more likely to talk politics at work, they also have less work experience than older workers and might be “unaware that these conversations can create problems with their colleagues who don’t share the same political opinions,” Correa said.

Do Political Discussions Hurt the Workplace Environment?

Not everyone is a fan of talking politics at work. Among the respondents in the ResumeHelp survey:

  • 57 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported feeling a negative impact from talking politics at work.
  • 51 percent believe workplace political discussions hurt the work environment.
  • 45 percent have regretted having political discussions at work.

The report also indicated that an organization’s politics can influence the types of candidates who apply for its open roles: 23 percent of respondents have avoided applying to a company’s job listing because of the company’s political stances, and 25 percent have left or wanted to leave a job because of their manager’s political beliefs.

A 2023 survey by Glassdoor found that younger employees are less comfortable than older workers with politically diverse workplaces and are more sensitive when senior executives have political views different from their own.

Additionally, nearly half of Generation Z workers (49 percent) indicated that they would not apply to open roles at a company where the CEO supported a political candidate with whom they did not agree, the Glassdoor survey found.

[SHRM All Things Work: Navigating the Workplace Political Minefield]

Maintaining Civility Without Censoring Discussions

Discussing politics in the workplace can shred a company’s guiding principles and erode its culture. A 2022 study by SHRM revealed that 20 percent of employees have been mistreated due to their political views.

Additionally, SHRM research released this month found a reported two-thirds of U.S. workers experienced or witnessed incivility in their workplace in the previous month, underscoring a critical need to foster spaces of respect and understanding. SHRM believes everyone can play a role in transforming workplaces to be more civil, one conversation at a time.

Failing to manage taboo discussions in the workplace, including political ones, can diminish productivity and innovation, according to the SHRM book Talking Taboo by SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso, SHRM-SCP.

However, Correa said that it’s possible to have civil political discussions if employees:

  • Respect one another’s differences and recognize that co-workers may hold different political beliefs and perspectives.
  • Approach political discussions with an open mind and a willingness to listen to others’ viewpoints without judgment or hostility.
  • Read the room and know when to disengage when the discussion becomes heated or awkward.

Employee civility is important but can be difficult to achieve if leaders do not create a civil environment. Katherine Boardman, chief people officer at consumer data platform BlueConic in Boston, said that “values, policies and the tone set by leaders all promote the health of the organization and provide a framework for productive and respectful communication.”

Correa noted that organizational leaders should:

  • Make it clear that political discussions in the workplace must be respectful.
  • Provide training on respectful communication and conflict resolution techniques to help employees navigate sensitive topics effectively.
  • Foster a culture of inclusivity, respect and professionalism to create a positive work environment where diverse perspectives are valued and differences can be discussed constructively.

“With a presidential election approaching, companies should make it clear to workers that discussions about politics must be conducted respectfully, if they happen at all,” Correa said. “Companies need to understand that viewpoints and comfort levels for politics in the workplace vary widely across generations.”


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