All Mouth, No Ears

Are politicians so busy talking they are not listening? A new national survey has found that 38% of U.S. workers feel that presidential candidates are not addressing workplace issues, including health care, retirement and pay. Another 23% of U.S. workers said they weren’t sure candidates were adequately addressing workplace topics.

The national survey was conducted in May and June 2007 by Harris Interactive for The Marlin Company (North Haven, Conn., www.themarlincompany.com), experts in workplace communications.

“These findings provide a clear opportunity for political candidates,” said Frank Kenna III, president of The Marlin Company. “Candidates are acting tonedeaf when it comes to US workers. Many voters spend half of their waking hours at work so what happens there is very important to them. Candidates need to do a better job showing that they’re in sync with those voters and their key workplace issues. That’s obviously not happening yet.”

The survey also found that nearly one out of four (24%) U.S. workers believe their top managers are openly expressing their political preferences at work. Those age 18 to 34 were more likely (33%) to say they have managers who made it clear which political candidates they preferred, compared to 16% of those age 50 or older.

The survey showed that political talk at work can make some employees uncomfortable. More than a quarter (26%) of those polled said they do not fit in with their company’s culture in terms of politics. However, men were more likely to say they fit in the company culture, with 75% indicating so, compared to 64% of women.

“The survey results suggest that we need to do a better job training managers to keep their political opinions to themselves,” said Mr. Kenna. “Managers need to walk a much finer line than other employees. Employees may feel unwanted pressure whether intended or not from managers who enthusiast ically support a candidate, which can make for an uncomfortable work environment.”

The survey found generational differences between younger and older workers regarding talking politics at work. Younger employees (age 18 to 34) were more likely to be comfortable sharing their political views (76%), compared to 64% of those age 50 or older. Younger employees were also more likely (84%) than older workers (68%) to say they were comfortable telling their boss which candidates they support.

The survey has a sampling error for the overall results of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. For further detail on the results and supporting data, please see Marlin results at www.themarlincompany.com.

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