Even in the most positive environments, gossip at work can sneak in when stress is high or work availability is low. When it comes to gossip, prevention is the best tactic to take.
However, there can still be times when gossip at work occurs and negatively impacts workplace morale. The one-two punch created by the cause and effect of gossip and low employee morale can wreak havoc on a business’s productivity and bottom line.
Preventing Gossip at Work
- Provide productive discussion times: Workers are more likely to gossip if they feel they have to fight for a moment of discussion. Provide productive discussion times through company meetings with business owners, department meetings, and with an open-door policy.
- Have guidelines in place: Every work environment should have guidelines in place for dealing with gossip at work. An employer who makes it clear from the get-go that gossip isn’t tolerated will help prevent it from starting.
- Encourage a team environment: Employees who enjoy working together as a team and have great workplace morale are less likely to fall into negative behaviors such as gossip. Business owners can encourage a team spirit and foster it through positive group activities within the workplace.
Dealing with Gossip at Work
- Go to the source: When gossip starts, it’s best to squelch it by going directly to the source. Once the person is spoken to, the business owner can direct attention to others spreading the gossip at work.
- Put out the rumor fires: A public announcement within the company may need to be made to stop rumors from flying. This statement doesn’t have to directly address the current workplace gossip topic, but should make it clear that the situation won’t be tolerated.
- Set things straight: If necessary, counteracting gossip with the truth will usually put a stop to those who try to perpetuate rumors.
Boosting Employee Morale
- Acknowledge achievement: It’s not hard to keep workplace morale high if achievements are noticed and acknowledged on a regular basis. Everyone appreciates being acknowledged, and a simple comment such as, “Great job on that presentation today,” can make all the difference.
- Encourage encouragement: Everyone should play a role in workplace morale and encouragement. Discuss the positive impact of catching other employees doing something right, while setting the example on how to do it.
- Reward positive behavior: Those who are prone to gossip at work might be encouraged to change their ways if employees are rewarded for positive behavior. Shedding too much light on workplace gossip to the point that it becomes the primary attention-getter can actually leave gossipers feeling rewarded for their negative behavior.
Maintain a Gossip-Free Zone
A lot less work is required for business owners to maintain a gossip-free workplace than to clean up the aftermath of rampant workplace gossip. Although there might still be an employee or two who tests the limits because they love to talk, adhering to office guideline on no gossip can help increase productivity, workplace morale, and the business’s bottom line.
Remember that leadership sets the tone when it comes to employee behavior. Business owners who are serious about avoiding the impact of gossip at work must set the example of communicating in positive ways, while avoiding the temptation to sneak in what might seem like a little harmless gossip.
This post is by Mary Ylisela, a veteran author and business coach who writes about issues relevant to the small-business owner, as well as topics related to homeowners such as how to find the best roofing contractor.
Have you ever gossiped at work? Ask Levo Mentor and Vice President, Public Relations at Target Dustee Tucker Jenkins about what damage this could do to your career!