Office gossip yields nothing positive in the workplace. In fact, it can be a serious problem leading to an unhealthy work environment. As a manager, you need to stop gossip before it occurs and address gossiping employees directly. While gossip may never completely go away, you can help to control it.
Address the detrimental effects of office gossip in a staff meeting with your team. Point out that there are no positive effects to office gossiping. Instead, let your staff know that you see gossiping as slowing down employee productivity and creating a negative office environment. Mention that continued gossiping will be noted on performance evaluations, which can affect pay raises.
Be the first to inform staff of company decisions such as hiring and firings, new policies and policy changes. If you can beat your staff to the punch with these items, this kills the need to speculate and perpetuate gossip. Answer your staff’s questions honestly if they come to you to confirm rumors. This may lead to your staff coming to you first before spreading office gossip.
Pull aside any of your staff members separately and meet with her privately to address her gossiping. Make sure you heard this person gossiping first-hand so you can explain what you saw and how it is affecting the workplace. Point out that the employee has wasted time gossiping and could have used that time for work or positively encouraging coworkers instead of spreading rumors.
Implement telecommuting for your staff, as applicable to your workplace and the individual positions. Telecommuting allows staff to work offsite, often from home, and might help keep staff from interacting negatively.
Do not engage in office gossip, ever, especially if your employee comes to you with gossip. Set the example for your staff and do not be a part of the problem. Should another manager approach you to gossip, stop him and state that you don't want to hear about it until it is a fact. Never offer your opinion on gossip; just nod your head and do not show a response, should the gossiper continue.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.