Employee gossip in the workplace is a very common issue despite not having any real positive effect in the workplace. In the worst case, a small group of workplace gossipers can seriously impede a company's morale. Even in its comparatively harmless case, it’s a huge time waster and can spread as fast as a bad cold.
To stamp out gossip among employees is practically impossible, but it can be curtailed. There are a few steps in handling the act before it disrupts the workplace culture. Here are a few steps on how to handle employee gossip.
Review company policy
Zero tolerance for gossip in the workplace should be stated clearly in the company’s policy. While addressing guidelines on ethics-related matters in the employee handbook, gossip should be emphasized. Workers need to be reminded of the disruptive effect of gossip in the workplace and that disciplinary actions accompany such. Set-up effective disciplinary actions for offenders, which may include sending home without pay. Enforcing this kind of laws may be difficult, but their presence alone can constrain employees from free-flow gossip.
Take immediate actions
When the case of gossip is reported, address it immediately. Find out the situation and the matter being discussed, then send out emails or summon an emergency meeting to clarify it. Eliminate any circulated false rumor, and in the case of gossip about an employee’s personal affairs, make the meeting more oblique. Ensure that offenders are adequately punished and also use the opportunity to remind employees of the policy against gossip and instruct them to stay away from public speculations of personal matters.
Set public example
In a workplace, every employee directly or indirectly looks up to the boss for clearance of action. They want to see the message you are sending through your actions and inactions. That’s why you must always endeavor to be a role model for employees to follow, particularly regarding gossip. Don’t engage in any kind of gossip, be assertive, and always switch the topic when gossiping is about to begin. Set for yourself a personal principle of integrity and work-mindedness. Ensure that through your actions, you communicate to employees that gossip within the workplace won't be tolerated.
Encourage positive gossip
Employees will always have something to talk about among themselves. Instead of picking up negative gossips, create for them a culture of positive gossip. Encourage employees to always share positive work-related stories and source of inspirations among themselves. Provide platforms that allow free communication between employees and bosses on something they are proud of. With positive story-telling in the workplace, organizations can reinforce their cultural values and key behaviors.
Private life should be kept private
Some level of trust should exist among co-workers. That alone does not imply sharing your private life with everyone. Unless there is absolute trust, employees should be encouraged to keep their private life private. Personal information regarding relationships, family, and others should not be disclosed to everyone. One fact about workplace gossip is: if they are gossiping about others, then they will gossip about you too. Ensure that in your dealings, you don’t offer anyone ammunition to gossip about you.