Office Politics Exposed: From Memes to Manifestos, How Far Does It Go?

Office Politics Exposed: From Memes to Manifestos, How Far Does It Go?

Read Time: 5 Minutes


28 Jun 2024

With the UK general election fast approaching, it seems we can't escape workplace politics. This taboo subject has been around for years, raising the question: is it ever okay to discuss politics at work? The current political climate stirs strong opinions, making these conversations in a professional setting quite challenging.

To better understand the general consensus, we surveyed over 1,000 Brits to uncover their thoughts and experiences regarding political discussions in the workplace. Our findings aim to shed light on how employees feel about mixing politics with their professional lives.

Is Politics A Good Topic of Conversation?

We asked our survey respondents if they think it’s okay to discuss politics in the workplace. The results were quite revealing: more than 54% of respondents believe that discussing politics at work is acceptable, while just over a quarter feel it isn't an appropriate topic for the workplace. Interestingly, 1 in 5 respondents shared that whether politics is a suitable conversation topic depends on where you work, who you’re talking to, and the circumstances of the situation.

When it comes to being vocal about their political views at work, more than 53% of respondents said they are not open about their political opinions. In contrast, only a third consider themselves vocal about politics in the workplace. Additionally, 13% mentioned that they would share their views if asked but wouldn’t initiate conversations around politics on their own.


Is It Ever Okay to Ask?

We asked our survey respondents if they think it’s okay to ask their colleagues who they’re voting for. A whopping six in ten respondents find it unacceptable to ask their colleagues about their voting choices, indicating that political discussions in the workplace remain a taboo topic. However, nearly a quarter of Brits shared that they would feel comfortable asking, and just over 10% mentioned that they would only ask if it's mutual or if they have a good relationship with the person they’re talking to.


Office Politics to Cause a Stir

We asked survey participants if they think discussing politics in the workplace causes problems. A significant proportion, more than half of Brits, believe that talking about politics at work does indeed lead to issues. Only 23% disagreed with this sentiment. Additionally, more than a quarter of respondents indicated that while it may not always cause problems, it certainly has the potential to do so. This highlights the sensitive nature of political discussions in a professional setting and the cautious approach many employees prefer to take.


Do We Need Rules?

We asked our survey respondents if their employer has any rules or regulations around discussing politics in the workplace. More than three quarters of respondents shared that their employer has no rules regarding political discussions. Given that more than half of Brits believe talking about politics causes problems at work, maybe it's time to introduce some guidelines.

A small 21% of respondents stated that their workplace has rules about politics.

We followed up by asking if respondents believe there should be rules around discussing politics in the workplace. Interestingly, more than a third of respondents support the introduction of such rules, compared to 51% who prefer to keep political chat as it is.

Other respondents shared their thoughts:

“Maybe creating break-out areas with a moderator for staff to discuss their views. With most people spending more time socialising at work than at home, it will be a modern affair team members will want to discuss, but feel it’s important for these discussions to be unbiased and not manipulative.”

“No rules specifically about politics, but guidelines on how to deal with differences in beliefs and opinions in general.”

“Only if there have been problems, then guidance could be brought in.”


Hot Under The Collar?

We asked our respondents if they had ever had an argument, feud, or heated discussion with a colleague involving politics.

Almost 1 in 5 have experienced a "hot under the collar" moment with a colleague at work over politics, whether it's due to voting for opposing parties or pushing their political views.

Interestingly, respondents noted a generational gap in these discussions: "I have seen heated coercion of younger team members by older team members with strong political views." This suggests that political tensions in the workplace can sometimes be influenced by age-related differences in perspectives and communication styles.


Spreading The Message

One in twelve respondents openly admitted to trying to persuade, convince, or influence a colleague on their own political views. 

Additionally, a third of respondents admitted to sharing political news at work, and one in three confessed to sharing political jokes or memes.

Interestingly, 3% of respondents revealed that they have been known to circulate a political party’s manifesto among their colleagues.

These findings indicate that political discourse in the workplace goes beyond casual conversation, often involving active attempts to spread personal political beliefs.


The Election and Your Business

With the upcoming UK General Election set for Thursday, 4 July 2024, we believe it's crucial for our customers to understand what this means for their business's future. Whether you're just starting out or have been in your industry for years, navigating the impact of politics on your business can be challenging.

To help you stay informed, we've created a comprehensive guide to the General Election 2024, outlining potential changes and how they may affect you from both ends of the political spectrum based on Labour and Conservative manifestos.


Think politics should be a more open subject? Want to put a ban on political talk at work? Let us know your thoughts on social media by using #instantprintuk!


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.