Do you frequently see employees huddled together and speaking in hushed tones? If this is the case, your company most likely has a bad workplace gossip problem.
While gossiping may appear to be annoying but trivial on the surface, the long-term damage it causes can be toxic to your culture.
Getting to the bottom of the problem can be difficult. However, it can be dealt with rationally with the right set of leadership skills. This article will help you identify the negative impact and resolve them as soon as possible.
Let's delve in.
What is Workplace Gossip?
Workplace gossip is defined as a casual conversation between coworkers about the personal and sensitive affairs of others. Some employees do it on purpose, while others get along for the sake of the discussion. Whatever the reason, the victim suffers long-term consequences due to gossiping. It demoralizes the employee and tarnishes their reputation in the workplace.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to stop such occurrences and get to the issue's root. You also need to figure out the employees who indulge in gossiping and create a toxic workplace.
However, before you do so, you must first understand the negative effects it has on the workplace. When you understand how harmful gossiping is, you will be able to take swift action and develop a positive workplace.
The Negative Impacts of Workplace Gossip
1. Reduces Productivity
Employees who become the targets of workplace gossip may become demoralized and burned out. They will struggle to focus, lose their collaboration mindset, and experience a drop in productivity.
Simply put, such employees lose their passion for their jobs. For them, the workplace becomes a negative place and the very source of their terrible employee experience.
2. Increases Turnover
Employees' self-esteem suffers when they are the target of workplace gossip. People frequently discuss the victims' personal lives, which can be harmful. It lowers their overall morale and, in the long run, forces them to leave the workplace. It can be detrimental to the organization's image while increasing turnover rates.
3. Tarnishes Trust
The overall negative effects of workplace gossip are that it reduces trust in employees. Individuals avoid conversing with one another for fear of having their words taken out of context and discussed throughout the workplace.
This can have a negative impact on how a team works together. When a problem arises, employees do not approach or assist one another. The entire structure of a "team" collapses, and there is no unity among the employees.
4. Toxic Company Culture
As previously stated, gossip undermines trust, affecting overall teamwork and cohesion. This increases conflict, and there is no mutual understanding. The work culture becomes toxic and gravely affects workplace relationships in the long run.
One of the key causes is a lack of communication among employees. Employees are unappreciative of one another and fail to recognize one another's contributions to the team.
Recommended Read: How To Handle Toxic Employees?
5. Harms the Mental Well-Being
One of the most serious consequences of workplace gossip is that it harms the victim's mental health. This hampers an employee's ability to work in the long run, resulting in high-stress levels and employee burnout.
5 Ways to Tackle Workplace Gossip
1. Improvize your Company's Policy
Company policies are an essential component of any workplace. These policies form the framework for how things should be done and aligns everyone to achieve the company's goals and objectives. It ensures that the organization runs more smoothly while not jeopardizing the company's reputation.
However, as the organization grows, you may find that you need to change your policies.
One of the most important policies to include is on maintaining workplace ethics. Without it, you won't be able to take disciplinary action if employees engage in unethical workplace gossip that may endanger other employees. Be more flexible when updating your policies and solicit feedback on how you want them to be articulated.
Recommended Read: Open Door Policy At The Workplace - Purpose, Pros And Cons
2. Be Observant
As a leader, you must be on the lookout for anything that may disrupt the workplace balance. You must be aware of your employees' actions and interactions. If you notice something that does not feel right, it is your responsibility to look into it.
Similarly, if you see a group of employees discussing topics unrelated to the workplace, pay attention to them. Try to get to the bottom of their gossip and understand the problem you're dealing with. Once you are certain and aware of the situation, take the necessary steps to resolve it before it worsens.
3. Form an Internal Committee
Forming an internal committee solely focused on the issue to combat workplace gossip is another effective way. Members of the committee can be senior employees, executives, or higher-ranking officials.
Ask for the assistance of the human resources department if you find it difficult to come up with the necessary information. You must make it clear to employees that they can approach the committee if they witness or are victims of gossip.
Install complaint boxes where employees can anonymously voice their or others' concerns to help the committee succeed. This will encourage the employees to raise their issues without hesitation, as their identity will remain secret. The idea is to keep the work environment less toxic and more sustainable.
4. Encourage Positive "Gossip"
Not every gossip that takes place in the workplace is bad. There is positive gossiping, where employees appreciate others for an achievement or a skill. As a leader, encourage your employees to have positive talks that will improve the morale of others.
Positive gossiping has an optimizing effect or impression on the personality and character of others'. This enables the employees to foster good relationships in the workplace and improves team bonding. However, keep in mind that employees are more into positive gossiping. Create a work environment that focuses on appreciation and recognition. Be a neutral manager and do not resort to bias, as it will undermine your effort to create a positive work environment.
5. Be Empathetic and Compassionate
As a manager, you must be compassionate and empathetic. It is one of the few leadership characteristics that distinguishes you and makes you a great leader. And this is something you must do with the employee who has been the target of workplace gossip.
Provide all necessary support and assistance to the employees in resolving the problem. Have friendly conversations with employees to make them feel at ease. Moreover, schedule counseling sessions to assist employees in dealing with the situation. Assign professionals who understand the problem so that they can provide tips to employees.
These steps will prepare the employees mentally to face workplace gossiping head-on in the long run.
Summing It Up!
As a manager, it is critical to act quickly while gossip is under control. Take all of the necessary actions and wield all the necessary power to improve the workplace. Try to bring everyone together and foster mutual understanding and respect so that you can address the problem at its root. If you are successful in doing so, you will be able to create a better work culture for everyone.