Gossip in the workplace is a serious issue. Though many employees engage in gossip without meaning harm, the act itself damages individuals and the company as a whole. Time spent standing around gossiping is time that could increase productivity. False rumors create fear and baseless worries. In addition, of course, a workplace gossip erodes the morale of the staff. The good news is that the grownups at work have options for dealing with gossips.
Managers have a variety of ways for handling a gossip in the workplace. When approached with gossip, managers must “lead by example” and halt the conversation immediately. Managers must clearly say that gossip, harmless or otherwise, is not tolerated in any department. If the story-spreader is dentified, managers must speaking to the individual privately to explain the potential for damage to others, as well as the harm to her own reputation. If gossip persists, management must take firm action, especially if the gossip is interfering with team morale, effectiveness and productivity.
Employees can help to stop gossip in the workplace, too. In fact, employees are often more effective at stopping gossip than management, simply because they are on the same playing field. Employees engaging in a “no-gossip” policy are most effective, as they prevent a gossip from reeling them into the conversation. Employees concerned about gossip can report the issue to their supervisors for further action. In most cases, management is not even aware of a gossiping problem. Therefore, speaking up ensures a resolution before the gossip gets out of hand.
Create an Open Communication Policy
One of the most popular topics of workplace gossip is speculation about the future of the company or of key employees. Instead of letting employees guess, the Florida International University’s Employee Assistance Department suggests creating an open communication policy. By providing employees with regular official updates, companies can stop conjecture and rumors before they start.
Companies that create a strict no-tolerance policy about gossip in the workplace have more control over gossiping employees than companies without an official policy. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, creating a policy in the employee handbook regarding gossip in the workplace is imperative for controlling gossipers. If employees violate this policy, they face the consequences outlined in their employee handbook, including the possibility of warnings, suspension or termination.
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