Workplace gossip plagues all too many businesses. It’s annoying at best and can damage morale, diminish productivity and hurt productivity.
A study by the CPP Global Human Capital Report found, “An overwhelming majority (85%) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree.” Furthermore, they found, “U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008.”
As an employer, it’s important to take measures to stamp out workplace gossip.
1. Address It in Your Company Policy
A formal policy in your company handbook addressing gossip is an effective way to eradicate or greatly minimize this problem. Include a specific section defining what constitutes workplace gossip, and make it clear that it won’t be tolerated. Include the specific repercussions for violating the rule.
Author and CEO, Dave Ramsey of Ramsey Solutions is a great example of someone who has no patience for workplace gossip. He actually has a zero-tolerance policy, where perpetrators receive a warning for their first offense and are terminated for their second offense.
Although zero-tolerance may seem extreme, it has proven effective for Ramsey. When it’s clear that gossip won’t be tolerated in any form, it helps to curb it.
2. Avoid Engaging in It Yourself
As an employer, it’s crucial that you set a positive example for the rest of your workforce. Never engage in gossip yourself. After all, how can you expect your employees to avoid gossip if you’re guilty of it?
Lead by example, and your employees will be far less likely to engage in this type of negative conversation.
3. Confront Perpetrators
When it’s clear that there are certain individuals who are primarily responsible for workplace gossip, nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. Letting it go on will only perpetuate the issue. Whether you get a complaint from an employee or see it yourself, be proactive.
Explain that you’re aware of the behavior and it goes against company policy. Also, explain what the repercussions will be if they get caught again. A formal warning is often sufficient for getting your point across and will hopefully stop the behavior.
4. Hold a Group Discussion
After confronting perpetrators, it’s smart to have a meeting focused on workplace gossip. Highlight how you define gossip, what its negative effects are and how it can take a toll on your company. Make it abundantly clear that it won’t be tolerated.
Workplace gossip adversely impacts countless companies. It’s inherently divisive and creates a lot of unnecessary strife. Make it a point to snuff out gossip today and improve morale, productivity, and profitability in the process.