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5 Examples of Office Politics

Workplace politics can be defined as the use of power and influence by employees to achieve their own goals and objectives, often at the expense of others. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in many workplaces, and it can have a significant negative impact on productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being.

According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly one in five Americans has left a job in the past five years due to a toxic workplace culture, costing U.S. companies $223 billion in turnover. Moreover, 42 percent of U.S. employees have personally experienced political disagreements in the workplace, and more than one-third say their workplace is not inclusive of differing political perspectives.

In this blog post, we will examine various examples of office politics and how it affects the workplace. We will also emphasize the importance of being aware of office politics and their potential impact on individuals and the workplace.

Examples of Office Politics

Let’s delve deeper into some common examples of office politics that employees may encounter in the workplace.

A. Favoritism and nepotism: 

One of the most common examples of office politics is favouritism or nepotism, where employees are given preferential treatment or promotions based on personal relationships rather than merit or qualifications.

For example, a manager may hire or promote their family members or close friends, even if they are not the most qualified for the job. This can lead to resentment among other employees, who feel overlooked or undervalued. Additionally, it can impact the overall productivity and effectiveness of the team, as the best people may not be in the right positions.

B. Gossip and rumours:

Another example of office politics is gossip and rumours, which can be used to create division or gain an advantage over colleagues. For instance, an employee may spread rumours about a colleague’s personal life or work performance to gain favour with their manager or team leader. This can lead to mistrust and conflict among team members, impacting overall team morale and productivity.

C. Backstabbing and undermining:

Backstabbing and undermining is a form of office politics where employees engage in sabotage or manipulation to advance their own interests at the expense of others. For example, an employee may deliberately undermine a colleague’s project or reputation to make themselves look better in front of their boss. This can cause significant harm to the team’s dynamics and productivity, and may even lead to a toxic work environment.

D. Blaming and finger-pointing:

Blaming and finger-pointing is another example of office politics, where employees try to shift the blame onto others to avoid accountability or gain favour with higher-ups. For instance, an employee may blame a colleague for a mistake they made to avoid getting in trouble with their manager. This can create a culture of fear and mistrust, as employees may not feel comfortable taking ownership of their mistakes.

E. Power struggles and manipulation: 

Power struggles and manipulation are common in workplaces where there is a high degree of competition for promotions and recognition. Employees may engage in manipulation, control tactics, or other forms of office politics to gain power or influence over their colleagues. For example, an employee may take credit for a colleague’s work to make themselves look better in front of their manager. This can lead to mistrust and conflict among team members and can create a negative work environment.


In conclusion, office politics can be a double-edged sword that can either help or harm employees and organizations. However, being aware of its existence and proactive measures can help minimize its negative impact.

Examples of office politics can range from gossip, power struggles, favouritism, and manipulation, to undermining colleagues. These actions can create a toxic work environment, low morale, and decreased productivity, ultimately affecting the bottom line.

It is important to encourage employees to be vigilant and take steps to handle or minimize office politics professionally and positively. This can include addressing issues head-on, focusing on the work, and maintaining a positive attitude.

Organizations can also play a role in reducing office politics by fostering a positive work culture that promotes open communication and professionalism. By providing clear guidelines and policies for ethical behaviour, leaders can set a standard for all employees to follow.

Office politics are a reality of the workplace, but they do not have to dominate or negatively impact the work environment. By encouraging a positive culture and taking proactive steps to address and minimize office politics, employees can navigate the challenges and thrive in their careers.