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Susan M. Heathfield

What Causes Gossip?

By May 16, 2014

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Do you have a problem with gossip at work? Does your workplace overflow with employees whispering, talking behind people's backs, and criticizing or making fun of employees who aren't in the room?

Gossip is rampant, wide spread, and contagious in some workplaces. I would characterize those gossip-ridden workplaces as settings in which employees do not receive sufficient information about what is happening in the company. (This is one of the employees' five most important needs from work.)

Gossip is also a characteristic of companies that fail to make their decision making transparent to employees.

When decision rationale is not clear, then employees spend time guessing - usually with the most negative, nefarious rationales in mind - about why something changed.

When economic times are tough, and people are waiting for bad news, you must take on the hard topics to encourage your employees to trust you. If employees trust you, they are more likely to come to you with questions and comments. This is what you want to encourage at work.

I have also recommended that you need to nip gossip in the bud, just like employee negativity. Left to fester, both grow and are contagious; they infect even the most positive-spirited employees and weigh down the workplace. I do believe that negatively and persistently affecting employee morale is an offense that deserves disciplinary action (and lots of you agree), if coaching isn't working to change behavior. Here's how to manage gossip.

And, just out of curiosity, do you think that organizations should adopt a no gossip policy? Would it create an HR nightmare and only make matters worse? At PrintingForLess.com, a no gossip policy increases the sense of team work. At WinePressPublishing, a no gossip policy contributes to an uplifting environment.

Image Copyright Tanya Constantine - Getty Images

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