Amy Marcum | Insperity
Occasional office gossip may begin as an innocent, “Did you hear?” conversation over lunch, but regardless of intent, spreading rumors can do more harm than good in the workplace. Gossip can harm office morale and productivity, or even potentially damage someone’s reputation with false information.
Many employees may be able to recall a time when they participated in some form of gossip, from spreading potential layoff rumors to speculating about the future of the business. While employers cannot entirely eliminate gossiping in the office, there are steps managers can take to help curtail it. Here are six tips employers can use to help keep negative chatter to a minimum:
Coworkers may turn to gossip because they feel bitter or have a strained relationship with a coworker. Proactively reminding employees of the damaging consequences that spreading rumors can have on others, and the office environment, may help put the situation into perspective for all involved.
Promoting a transparent culture can help minimize the potential for gossip and rumors, especially those that are not true. During uncertain times, managers and company leadership should provide regular updates on what is or is not happening in the organization. These conversations allow employees to ask questions and receive immediate responses from leadership, which may help ease speculation.
Lead by Example
Company leaders set the tone for their organizations, as many staffers look up to executives and follow their behavior. Therefore, if a supervisor is gossiping, it is likely that workers will think it is OK to behave in the same way. For all management personnel, the best policy is to lead by example and refrain from participating in or condoning gossip.
One way to help prevent gossip is to create official policies and guidelines in an employee handbook. This can be especially useful when handling rumors that are slanderous, harassing or disruptive. Letting employees know from the outset that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated, and is subject to disciplinary consequences, such as termination, can help prevent problems in the future. Guidelines should also define means of electronic communications, such as emails, social media, instant messaging platforms and blog posts.
Employee surveys are a great tool to help management identify rumors that might be circulating, and help determine topics that should be discussed to ease concerns. Once the results have been gathered and analyzed, any areas of interest should be broached with employees as soon as possible to help source false information and offer resolutions that can quash rumors.
Sometimes discontent can arise as a result of boredom. Supervisors should work to ensure all employees are challenged and have enough responsibility to keep them occupied and focused on productivity instead of office hearsay.
Proactive measures to help reduce gossip can lead to a more positive, team-oriented workplace. Without these negative distractions, employees may be happier, more productive and better positioned to serve the company.
Amy Marcum is a senior human resource specialist with Insperity. Insperity provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, visit
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