A political expression policy serves as a reference for how employees can discuss politics at work. It can also guide companies on how to respond if employees face discomfort or discrimination. But only 41% of companies have a policy that outlines or regulates political expression in the workplace, according to a new report from Clutch.
“A political expression policy provides the framework for training and disciplinary action should things get out of hand,” said Ellen Mullarkey, vice president of Messina Staffing, a staffing agency in Chicago.
Only 27% of employees think their companies should have a political expression policy. This makes it challenging for companies to convince workers about the benefits a policy provides.
When employees express or discuss political views at work, it can create a tense or even hostile work environment. Few employees, though, have experienced discomfort or discrimination because of their political views in the recent past. Only 9% of employees have felt uncomfortable because of political discussion at work in the past week. Similarly, only 8% of employees agree that they’ve felt singled out or discriminated against because of their political views at work in the past year.
Employees are hesitant to alert management when they experience discomfort because of political expression. Only 3% of employees say that they’ve considered approaching management about political discussion at work in the last year.
When employees don’t trust management to address political expression, they may turn to legal recourse. Political expression policies help companies avoid legal scrutiny by ensuring that they comply with labor and employment laws.
Employees appreciate the environment political expression policies promote. Nearly half of employees at companies with a political expression policy (46%) agree that their company should have a policy, compared to just 14% of employees at companies without a policy.
Political expression on social media creates a particular challenge for companies. Specifically, companies have to both respect employees’ rights to express opinions through private social media channels and ensure those opinions will not create discord among other employees.
Still, 29% of employees agree that their company should clarify how employees can use social media to express political views at work. By comparison, only 27% of employees think their company should have a political expression policy.