Gossip is a natural human behavior, and the workplace is not immune to it. Even though it’s impossible to eliminate office hectoring entirely, there are a few approaches to help reduce its adverse effects. Appropriately coping with office gossip is an integral part of steering your company towards harmony and prosperity.
With that in mind, here, Colorado PEO, StaffScapes discusses five practical methods business owners and employees alike can adopt to mitigate gossip before it spins out of control.
1. Understand the Types of Gossip
Not all gossip in the office and workplace is dangerous. Idle chatter amongst staff members is perfectly normal and can even improve communication between teams. New projects or workflows may also benefit from the additional circulation of information resulting in fresh ideas and refined feedback.
According to StaffScapes, “Office gossip becomes unhealthy when it’s directed at individuals with nefarious intent.”
On the surface, gossiping and rumors seem innocuous, but the underlying essence brews contagious negativity. This volatile cycle quickly compounds on itself and creates a vile atmosphere eroding morale, hindering productivity, and crippling employee retention.
2. Address the Source
Nobody enjoys supervising a “he said, she said” scenario. Instead, StaffScapes suggests addressing the gossipers directly before the predicament escalates.
Politely ask to speak to the source privately. Be civil yet clear about your views and the negative impact of their behavior. A direct one-on-one approach is usually the most efficient way to stop gossiping altogether before it evolves into a heated confrontation or verbal harassment.
It’s possible to avoid the bulk of gossip in the office and workplace by tactfully changing the subject and encouraging others to follow suit. Observe conversations between your coworkers and take note of material that excites but does not revolve around work. Anything from trending pop-culture to new hip restaurants will suffice. At first, you may not have the arsenal to pivot to another topic gracefully, but with a little practice and due diligence, you’ll soon master the water-cooler chitchat.
4. Model Behavior
One of the perks of starting and owning a business is molding company culture. Lead by example and hire employees who are committed to modeling company values via their behavior. Employees more apt to gossip will realize that their demeanor is out of place and adjust their actions to avoid feeling like an outcast.
5. Report It
When all else fails, report antagonizing gossip to a neutral party like Human Resources. HR professionals are trained and committed to finding a positive outcome for employee disputes. If necessary, the instigator will receive a formal infraction after a thorough investigation. This maneuver removes any ambiguity about the negative consequences for malicious behavior and teaches employees to refrain from similar toxic conversations in the future.
Employers and employees should learn to recognize petty gossip in the office and workplace for what it is and act to prevent it from flourishing. There’s something to be said for accepting hearsay with a grain of salt, but not at the cost of company morale, productivity, and culture.
Nothing in your business is as important as your people, but building and leading a team brings challenges. StaffScapes can help you meet the challenges in HR by helping you provide excellent (and affordable) benefits, manage risk, and by handling workers comp and complete payroll processing. That lets you increase profitability, maximize productivity, reduce time spent on transactional HR activities, reduce employment-related liability, and ultimately lower labor costs, while boosting morale at work, and improving employee satisfaction and retention.