Rumour Has it ... Office Politics Exist

Survey Finds Workplace Politics Prevalent; Gossip and Rumours Most Common

Toronto, ON – Parliament Hill isn’t the only place brimming with politics. In a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps, 80 per cent of Canadian professionals said they believe office politics are alive and well in the workplace. Sixty-six per cent said politicking is somewhat or very necessary for career advancement, a slight five per cent decrease from a similar 2012 survey. More than half of workers (54 per cent) said they take part in office politics, with 10 per cent describing themselves as “active campaigners” and 44 per cent self-identifying as “occasional voters.” Respondents also noted the most common forms of office politics are gossip (50 per cent) and gaining favour by flattering the boss (23 per cent).

Workers were asked, “In your opinion, what effect, if any, does involvement in office politics have on one’s career?” Their responses:

Very necessary to get ahead


Somewhat necessary to get ahead


Not necessary at all to get ahead


Don’t know




Workers were also asked, “Which one of the following most closely describes your involvement in office politics?” Their responses*:

Active campaigner: I have to play the game to get ahead


Occasional voter: I get involved when issues are important to me


Neutral party: I stay completely out of the fray


Don’t know





*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

The 80 per cent of workers who said they have office politics at their company were also asked, “In your opinion, which of the following activities is most common in your office when it comes to office politics?” Their responses:

Gossiping or spreading rumours


Gaining favour by flattering the boss


Taking credit for others’ work


Sabotaging coworkers’ projects






“It is not always easy to avoid workplace politics in an office environment, but it is important for employees to be mindful of how they navigate those potentially touchy situations,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Getting involved in contentious matters at work may negatively impact how you are perceived professionally. To prevent adversely affecting your career opportunities, try to keep your distance and remain tactful and diplomatic.”




80% of employees believe office politics exist in their workplace

The three most common office politics activities:*

50% Gossiping or spreading rumors
23% Gaining favour by flattering the boss
18% Taking credit for others’ work


Effect of involvement in office politics on one’s career:

24% Very necessary to get ahead
42% Somewhat necessary to get ahead
22% Not at all necessary to get ahead
12% Don’t know


Employees’ level of office politics involvement:

I get involved when issues are important to me
I stay completely out of the fray
I have to play the game to get ahead
5% Don’t know

Source: Accountemps survey of more than 370 Canadian workers 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment

*Responses represent 299 employees who cited office politics in their workplace. Top three responses shown.

© 2016 Accountemps. A Robert Half Company.

Accountemps identifies six types of office politicians and how to handle them:

  1. Gossip Hound: This person knows everything about everyone and isn’t afraid to share information. She gets a rush by spilling secrets during lunch or posting confidential details on social media.

How to deal: Keep conversations with this individual related to business. When you sense the topic is shifting to coworkers’ personal lives, gracefully exit the conversation by saying you have pressing work to attend to.

  1. Credit Thief: This colleague wants to get ahead at any cost, even if it means stealing your ideas or passing your work off as his own.

How to deal: Be more vocal about your views and projects in front of the whole team. Provide frequent updates to your manager so there is no confusion about where credit is due.

  1. Flatterer: It can be hard to tell whether this person’s compliments are genuine or just a ploy to win people over. Take her comments with a grain of salt.

How to deal: Fortunately, most managers can see through fakeness, so there’s no need for you to call out this behaviour. 

  1. Saboteur: This person hasn’t gotten the memo that there’s no “I” in team, and works to benefit only himself. He can be openly critical, throws others under the bus and rarely takes responsibility for his faults.

How to deal: Be wary of this individual. Sometimes a Saboteur will back down if confronted. If the issue continues, keep track of your interactions and bring it up with your manager or human resources.

  1. Lobbyist: Often fighting for what she believes in and known for swaying opinions to her favour, the office Lobbyist could have had a lucrative career in politics.

How to deal: When working with a Lobbyist, voice your views on projects and speak up if you disagree with her outlook. Though a Lobbyist can be unreceptive to fresh ideas, a little explanation may be the key to getting her to open up to new concepts.

  1. Adviser: Those in leadership positions often turn to this trusted associate who serves as their “eyes and ears” of the company. The Adviser works closely with company leaders and holds indirect power. 

 How to deal: Befriend the Adviser – he is often the gatekeeper of significant information and wields influence behind the scenes.

To access North American survey results and additional advice for dealing with politics at work, download How to Navigate Office Politics: Your Guide to Getting Ahead.

About the Research
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 370 Canadian workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at Follow us at and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected] 

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