Home > Employee Engagement, HR Administration > Curbing Employee Gossip, What’s a Manager to Do?

Curbing Employee Gossip, What’s a Manager to Do?

Casual gossip is natural in the culture of many companies and, for as long as there has been interactive communication gossip can exist.  As an employer you may have to deal with gossip, but there are measures you can take to curb employee gossip.

More severe gossip involves vicious rumors that can create ill will among co-workers and disrupts the workforce. Gossip has rarely been recognized as a form of flattery, and in most cases lacks any real validity. It can cause irreversible damage and possibly get people into some serious trouble. When individuals assume to know and then discuss private affairs of others, they display an unprofessional and unattractive personality trait of their own. Not to mention, employees who spend time standing around the water cooler catching up on the latest gossip which wastes valuable work time and affects productivity.

Here are some ways that you can attempt to combat the situation:

  1. Educate your employees.
    • If they really understood how damaging gossip could be and what it costs them and the company, employees may be less inclined to spend time spreading gossip.
    • If the gossip mill can produce juicy tidbits about someone else, it can just as easily target them next time.
    • Remind them that small talk is one thing, but whispering about colleagues is another and they could be subjected to lawsuits for defamation or slander.
  2. Challenge employees through meaningful work. Individuals challenged by their jobs will have less time to participate in idle gossip
  3. Really mean business. Firmly inform your employees that malicious personal gossip will ABSOLUTELY not be tolerated. Discuss with them, the possible consequences for their actions so that they will want to stay away from it all together.  Consider the distribution of a Rumor Mill Policy ensuring compliance with recent NLRB Rulings.
  4. Don’t be afraid to confront repeat offenders. Employees who spend considerable time gossiping should be made aware that their behavior is not acceptable and that they are wasting valuable company time and money and weakening the team. Managers should address problems regularly by counseling the offender at the time the problem occurs or persists and ensure it is included during a performance evaluation.
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