If you work in an environment where employees freely communicate and socialize, it's easy to learn intimate details about your co-workers' personal and work life. If you're not careful, you could find yourself caught up in workplace gossip. The effects of workplace gossip are mostly negative, especially for the person who is the subject of the gossip. The only way to reduce the negative effects of workplace gossip is to help silence it.
Destroys Trust and Lowers Morale
When an employee confides in another co-worker, the conversation should remain confidential. If words spoken in confidence become the subject of workplace gossip, it can result in co-workers losing trust in each other. When an employee is the subject of workplace gossip, it can also negatively affect her morale. She might eventually decide to quit her job, which adds to an increase in company turnover.
Hinders Teamwork and Productivity
Gossip in the workplace can put a strain on teamwork and employee productivity. When someone becomes the subject of workplace gossip, it can become difficult for her to work with co-workers, specifically the ones who are participating in the gossip. This creates a toxic working environment with a lack of unity. If the employee is too focused on the gossip, she may not be able to focus on her work, and productivity suffers.
Many companies have confidentiality clauses that prevent employees, and especially members of management from disclosing sensitive information to others. If a supervisor or manager discloses confidential information about an employee that contributes to workplace gossip, they can face disciplinary action or termination. Some companies have even enacted zero-tolerance policies on workplace gossip. Violating this policy can also result in disciplinary action. If an employee perceives the workplace gossip as harassment or defamation of character, she could file a lawsuit against the company.
Minimizing the Gossip
If you are approached with workplace gossip, set an example for others to follow. Don't participate in the gossip by leaving room or change the subject whenever the gossip starts. This sends the message to others that the behavior is unacceptable. Eventually, your co-workers might take the hint. If the gossip continues, don't be afraid to tell your supervisor or boss about the situation. By doing so, management can address the matter in a way that promotes a healthy working environment.
Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.