Office gossip can create tension and disruption in a workplace, can undermine productivity and can cause irreparable damage. It can hurt morale and can also focus employees away from their more important responsibilities. Yet managers and supervisors often feel uncertain or powerless about how to stop it.
Before taking action, it is important to first identify the disruptive behavior(s). I define gossip in two ways: 1) the discussion of another person in his/her absence, or 2) any conversation about another person in which there is no first-hand knowledge or about which the individuals cannot affect the outcome.
If office gossip is disrupting your workplace, damaging morale, or causing your organization lost productivity, here is a three-step remedy:
- Create a “No Gossip Policy”
Two samples of a “No Gossip Policy” are available on my website at www.birnbachsuccesssolutions.com/content/resources. When you create a policy, be sure to provide your definition of the behavior(s) that constitutes gossip as well as ways you will deal with it. Make sure that employees understand that gossip will not be tolerated.
- Educate Your Employees
If employees understand your position on the matter — that gossip can be damaging to morale, and can cost them and the organization in lost productivity — they will be less inclined to spend time engaging in unfounded conversations. You must be clear that you will not tolerate gossip in your office.
- Address offenders
Once you have communicated your position about gossip and have instituted a “no gossip” policy, you can counsel employees who continue to engage in gossip. Be sure to counsel the individual(s) when the behavior occurs, rather than waiting. Speak in a factual, objective way. Focusing on the behaviors you have observed in a timely manner will increase the likelihood of behavior change.
If you have questions about implementing a “no gossip” policy, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 530-6300.
No Gossip Policy – Sample
Gossip is defined as: a) any conversation about another which is held in their absence or b) any conversation about another person in which there is no first-hand knowledge or about which the individuals cannot affect the outcome.
Because gossip can be a destructive force in an organization it can undermine productivity and staff morale. Conversations that are not solution-focused are counterproductive. For these reasons, ____________________ (organization name) discourages gossip during working hours and on work premises.
Discussions and comments involving a co-worker or member are limited to their presence. If you have a problem or complaint about your job or another co-worker, you are encouraged to bring the issue to your manager or the Executive Director. At the same time, you will be expected to bring at least two possible solutions to the issue.
By signing below, you agree not to engage in gossip – conversations concerning members or co-workers in their absence — and to find solutions to problems you have identified. You commit to building up the morale of co-workers and members.
Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Employee Signature Date