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Employees are more supportive of companies regulating their political expression on social media than they are of companies regulating political expression at the office. Nearly half of employees under 35 (45%), though, oppose company efforts to regulate social media use at work, indicating that they view personal social media as completely separate from the office.

Social media is the new water cooler at work: Employees increasingly use personal social media profiles to communicate with each other about work, personal, and political matters. But, is discussing politics on social media different from discussing in the office?

Employees under the age of 35 view discussing politics at the physical office and discussing politics on personal social media during work hours as distinct, according to a new survey from Clutch, the leading B2B ratings and reviews platform.

The survey found that 45% of employees ages 18-34 disagree that their company should clarify whether employees can use social media to express political views while working.

Younger Employees Are More Comfortable on Social Media and in Like-Minded Office, So Are Wary of Social Media Policies

Three factors influence why younger employees oppose companies regulating political expression on social media:

  1. They want to work at a company with like-minded political views
  2. They value separation between work and personal life
  3. They are more likely to use social media

More than one-third of employees ages 18-34 (36%) think it’s important to work for a company that aligns with its political views. Just 20% of employees 35 and older share this opinion.

If most employees at an office share political opinions, younger employees may think is unnecessary for their company to have a policy about sharing those opinions on social media.

Second, younger employees are more likely to separate their work and private lives. A company policy that regulates how employees use personal social media, even while at work, can make them feel their companies are overly involved in their personal lives.

Finally, younger people use social media more often than older colleagues and are more comfortable expressing themselves on social media. Company policies that limit what employees can discuss on social media may cause younger employees to feel less comfortable expressing themselves at work.

Employees Prefer Social Media Regulation Over Formal Political Expression Policies

More employees agree that their companies should regulate political expression on social media (29%) than think their company should have a political expression policy (27%).

Employees may be concerned that coworkers lack empathy or social awareness when discussing political views on social media. To preserve a respectful office culture, they are more open to companies regulating political discussion on social media.

“The problem with social media is that you don’t empathize with the situation others have as you would do when you are face-to-face,” said Miles Maftean, a content specialist for Zety, an online resume builder.

Clutch’s survey included 500 full-time employees in the U.S.

Read the full report: