Gossip flourishes in most workplaces these days. It is so bad that it seems like talking about each other is all we have to do. Workers talk about the company, their and their managers. It is common for employees to take a partial truth and run with it. In the workplace, people will gossip about anything and everything. Hearing information through the grapevine and believing rumors results in low employee morale and a toxic culture. As a leader, it is time for you to put a stop to it.
When Should You Act?
You can expect some amount of gossip to exist in all workplaces. Employees like to know what is going on in the company, and they enjoy discussing work issues. However, the buzz can go too far. As a manager, you need to know when the gossip is out of hand and act. It is time to take action if the rumors and gossip are:
- Disrupting the workplace and affecting actual work
- Hurting employees feelings
- Damaging interpersonal relationships
- Harming employee motivation and morale
When you find yourself having to address gossip habitually, it might be time to examine the workplace and understand consistent gossip themes. Rumors might be flying because you are not sharing enough information with your employees, or they may even be afraid to ask about important subjects. When employees lack information, they make up their version.
Manage gossip the way you manage any other negative behavior from an employee in the workplace. Try to coach the employee to help them try to improve their behavior. Because gossiping is often a lifelong behavior, breaking the habit may require a tremendous effort. However, it can destroy or do serious harm to a business if you do not address it.
Let your gossip management begin with a serious talk between you and the employee. Hopefully, a discussion of the negative impacts of rumors will affect the employee and change their behavior. If not, it is time to begin the progression of gradual discipline with a verbal notice, then an official written warning for the employee’s file. Fire an employee who continues to gossip after participation in the coaching and formal discipline process. One bad employee can drive your good employees out the door.
If you handle rumors and gossip assertively, you will begin to establish a work culture that does not support gossip. Try to answer your employees’ questions to avoid the spreading of rumors. If employees talk about other employees, make it clear that you will not tolerate such behavior in the office. Remember that someone who gossips to you will also gossip about you.
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