It’s Official, The 2020 Election Is Making It Hard To Focus At Work

By Kathy Morris - Oct. 21, 2020
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Having a hard time focusing?

You aren’t alone. Between the work-from-home grind, a global pandemic, and a 2020 election that consumes the 24 hour news cycle, it can be challenge to remain on task.

If that isn’t enough, political memes in Slack and heated water color talk mean it isn’t just the headlines, it’s your coworkers contributing to the distraction.

We surveyed 2,000 workers to determine the impact of politics on the workspace. Turns out, most workers are pretty distracted by politics and almost half have a lot to say on the clock.

Quick Facts

Other Interesting Findings

  • 54% of workers do not talk about politics at work.
  • While the majority of us are distracted by politics, 21% of workers stay focused.
  • 47% of us admit to talking politics at work.
  • A staggering 71% of Rhode Islanders talk politics at work- more than any other state.
  • Where do people talk politics the least at work? Montana and Nebraska.
  • 56% of workers’ keep their political affiliation a secret from their employers.
  • More than 1-in-3 believe if their employer knew their political beliefs they could potentially experience negative repercussions..
  • 44% of job seekers would have reservations about applying at a company that actively supports a different political party than theirs.
  • Another 21% wouldn’t apply at all

Is it ok to talk politics at work? A breakdown

Keeping quiet or sharing your political opinions at work can both be difficult. While a majority of workers opt to not bring politics in the workspace, many still believe their is a space for political expression in the workspace. We sought to understand the common reasons people agree (or disagree!) with politics in the workspace:

Common Reasons People Believe Politics At Work Are Appropriate

  • Civil discussion with like minded coworkers is fine
  • Respectful conversion is fine
  • Downtime at work (breaks, lunches) is not on the clock
  • Hiding personal beliefs for 40 hours a week is difficult/unpleasant
  • Politics can impact work (laws, regulations, or changing policies)
  • Not unusual to discuss politics in certain work environments

The most common response by far was that it’s not inappropriate to discuss politics with coworkers of similar believes. This is particularly interesting because a high percentages of workers attest to keeping their political affiliation secret. Maybe not the best kept secret? Now for the other side of the lid, the 44% who believe politics are not for the workspace:

Common Reasons People Believe Politics At Work Are Not Appropriate

  • Employers are in a position of power that makes political talk risky or unequal
  • People can feel alienated or relationships hurt by political beliefs
  • Can create hostile environment
  • Political talk is boring or uninteresting
  • “Sex, politics, and religion” don’t belong at work

Overall, many seem to differentiate between bosses and coworkers; Drawing a line of appropriateness between colleagues that doesn’t extend to managers or bosses.

METHODOLOGY, a career resource website, conducted a study of 2,000 workers across the U.S. on politics in the workplace.

Each respondent was asked a series of questions about their feelings, thoughts, and personal actions involving politics in the workplace.

Vermont was excluded due to sample size.

Politics At Work Is Complicated

Whether you talk about politics at work may depend on your work environment and your own comfort level.

Regardless, it is important to remember that your “like minded” coworker, might just be quietly disagreeing or too uncomfortable to express their thoughts. Strive for a respectful, civil tone and be careful not to attack your colleagues who are just trying to finish a presentation.

If political believes are important to you, consider applying to a company that aligns with you politically.

How many workers talk politics at work?

State Percent Of Workers
Alabama 56%
Alaska 50%
Arizona 44%
Arkansas 60%
California 50%
Colorado 51%
Connecticut 40%
Delaware 60%
Florida 50%
Georgia 37%
Hawaii 50%
Idaho 33%
Illinois 47%
Indiana 53%
Iowa 63%
Kansas 43%
Kentucky 43%
Louisiana 42%
Maine 40%
Maryland 47%
Massachusetts 45%
Michigan 38%
Minnesota 51%
Mississippi 38%
Missouri 49%
Montana 25%
Nebraska 25%
Nevada 50%
New Hampshire 50%
New Jersey 44%
New Mexico 44%
New York 45%
North Carolina 44%
North Dakota 33%
Ohio 38%
Oklahoma 42%
Oregon 37%
Pennsylvania 47%
Rhode Island 71%
South Carolina 53%
South Dakota 33%
Tennessee 49%
Texas 45%
Utah 58%
Virginia 52%
Washington 34%
West Virginia 43%
Wisconsin 58%
Wyoming 40%

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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Topics: Study