Commentary

May 3, 2013

What employers can do to break the gossip cycle

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John Winkfield
Director, Equal Employment Opportunity

Gossip_image
While regulating gossip can be very difficult, there are some things that employers can do to minimize negative gossiping and rumor mongering in the workplace:

  • Communicate regularly and consistently with employees. Regular communication minimizes the influence and need for gossip because everyone is “in-the-know.” A communication vacuum is a breeding ground for gossip.
  • Discourage gossip in official office policy. Convey to your employees that such talk is injurious to morale and productivity and will not be tolerated.
  • Nip it in the bud. If an employee comes to you complaining of gossip, or if you know an employee to be a gossiper, be proactive. Tell the offender that you are aware of his or her behavior. Describe how his or her behavior negatively impacts the workplace and request a new behavior.
  • Incorporate employee driven group discussions and expectations about gossiping. This gives coworkers permission to hold each other mutually accountable for having a “gossip-free” workplace.
  • As a supervisor or manager—do not engage in gossip yourself. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Supervisors and managers have the responsibility of creating an environment that is safe and healthy for all their employees. When an individual or individuals are allowed to create an environment that is not conducive to the workforce, those individuals need to be held accountable.




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