Office gossip may seem as old and inevitable as the water cooler where it often gathers, but by taking some preventative steps early on, this potentially harmful chatter can be avoided. While some gossip may seem benign and harmless, most gossip can have serious repercussions. This idle chatter can not only drain productivity and poison office morale and employee engagement, but it can also damage the reputation of both the target of the gossip and the gossiper. And in some cases, office gossip can even lead to liability issues when pervasive gossip is deemed as malicious harassment or bullying.
Putting a stop to office gossip and preventing it before it begins is critical to creating a healthy and productive work environment. Follow these tips to help nip office gossip in the bud at your workplace.
- Address the specific perpetrators – In cases where you know who specifically is perpetuating the office gossip, it’s important to address them directly and personally. Speak with the key perpetrators in a private and confidential location where the conversation will not be overheard. Use this opportunity to inform the person of the impact of their behavior and let them know the consequences they will face if they continue to gossip, including a warning in their personnel file, demotion, loss of job, etc.
- Address gossip with the entire team – Once you’ve met with specific offenders, meet with your entire team to discuss the issue. This is a great opportunity to address the negative effects of gossip and consider what positive gossip Discuss ways that you can shift the department culture to one that encourages positive talk and discourages negative gossip. It’s important to do this in a small group meeting so that everyone feels their voice can be heard, as opposed to a mass email, which is impersonal and easily ignored.
- Encourage positive gossip and open dialogue – Encourage positive gossip by sharing stories about individuals, teams or the entire company when positive behavior or actions were taken. This can be done in weekly meetings and email updates. It’s also important to keep communication channels open and share information about company news, so that everyone is on the same page and rumors are avoided.
- Exhibit the behavior you want to see – It’s important that you demonstrate the behavior you want to see by avoiding getting caught up in office gossip and keeping positive, open dialogue with your employees.
What ways have you found to nip office gossip in the bud? Find out how Back Office Support Solutions’ Human Resources service can help your business develop and implement a useful gossip policy.