When you have a group of people working together in an office environment there is bound to be workplace gossip from time to time. However, gossip in the workplace is one of the most common ways to destroy the morale of the company and decrease productivity. Not only is it a waste of time, but it hurts people’s feelings, the reputation of the business, and the company’s bottom line. Just because it is common in the workplace does not mean there is nothing you can do about it. Here are a few things you can do to stop the office gossip and create a more positive working environment for all.
Address the Specific Culprits
The first step managers should take in stopping workplace gossip is to directly address the people spreading the gossip. This should be done in confidence so others cannot hear what is being discussed. Talk to the person and try to understand what is motivating them to spread gossip about another coworker. There might be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Then, your goal should be to help that person understand the impact of their behavior and the consequences of what will happen if it continues.
Meet with Your Entire Team
Once you have addressed the individual perpetrators, it’s important to have a discussion with your entire team about the harmful impact that gossip can have in the workplace. This is not the place to call out anyone individually, but rather to have a generic conversation with the team as a whole. Work with your team to come up with ideas to change the department culture and create a more positive work environment.
Encourage Positive Gossip
The word “gossip” usually has a negative connotation but gossip isn’t always a bad thing. Positive gossip is when managers and employees share positive stories about things going on in the office. Managers should encourage employees to share positive gossip if they see a coworker going above and beyond to help a customer or colleague or if they hear of someone coming up with a great idea. Positive gossip is a powerful way of spreading good energy and encouraging positive behavior.
Lead By Example
One of the most powerful ways a manager can influence their team is by modeling good behavior themselves. As a manager, it is your responsibility to stop gossip if you hear it in the break room. You should also model positive gossip by sharing your own positive stories throughout the workplace. Your employees will look to you for what behaviors are acceptable so you need to be sure you are “walking the walk” and leading by example.
Take Action When Needed
It is every manager’s responsibility to make their employees feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. Therefore, if gossip is affecting a member of their team, it is their duty to put a stop to it. If a discussion with the perpetrator has not put an end to the behavior, then it is time for the manager to take action. Managers should start with a verbal warning, then a formal written warning for the employee’s file. If the behavior persists, the employee should absolutely be terminated. One toxic employee can drive out your good employees so it’s not a risk worth taking.