A recent poll from recruitment marketing firm Employment Office has revealed that most employees don’t appreciate office gossip. In fact, a surprising 63 percent feel that a colleague has taken gossip too far on more than one occasion. (Source: HRM Online) Not only does this put a damper on employee morale, office gossip also impacts productivity levels and can lead to resentment among some employees.
The managing director behind this recent poll stated that while it is important to build social relationships with colleagues, there must also be boundaries established (Source: HRM Online). He continued saying:
A manager needs to be in touch with their team, knowing just the point at which chat stops being something that energizes the team, and turns into something that actually drains workers.”
Balance is key
It’s all about achieving balance. Building relationships and friendships with co-workers is part of building a healthy and happy workplace environment – and there’s no denying that it helps to boost overall employee morale as well. However, with data pointing to office gossip as a potentially serious problem, there must also be guidelines established to ensure that these office conversations do not escalate.
The topic being discussed also weighs heavily on the impact of the gossip. Subjects surrounding race, religion, sexual orientation, and politics should be avoided – our blog post on the Big Brother contestants should only be further evidence of this!
Where does HR come in?
Often times, employees gossip about issues surrounding management – how things are being run, what they are or are not doing, etc. One way to combat rumours and ensure that speculation does not become misinformation is to communicate regularly with employees about what is happening in the workplace. This type of open communication will help to eliminate gossip at the source – when employees believe they have sufficient information, they’ll spend less time gossiping and more time working (Source: HR Hero).
In addition to this, consider training your employees and advising them that negative and malicious gossiping and rumours are unacceptable in the workplace. Addressing the issue in your code of conduct or disciplinary policy will also bring home the message that gossip is not taken lightly (Source: HR Hero).
Gossip is, in most cases, inevitable. That’s why it’s so important to address it early on and ensure that the issue doesn’t grow into something that’s unmanageable and damaging to your workplace.
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