How to Curb Gossip in the Workplace
This is probably one of the most frequent issues that employers have asked for my help with. When employers talk about Gossip they are usually referring to 1 of 2 problems
Employees are talking negatively about one another
Employees are discussing and stressing over workplace decisions, and or processes; getting themselves and others stressed out about things that may simply not be true
How to intervene?
Situation 1: It’s critical that you intervene if your employees are speaking negatively about each other. If you allow this type of behaviour to continue, you are telling employees that speaking badly about one another is accepted and it will get worse. Approach the group and let them know you are not pleased about the information that is being discussed. Try not to shame or blame anyone, and take the time to acknowledge any frustrations. Let employees know how you expect them to deal with conflict and encourage employees to come to you if their initial attempt to work something out with a co-worker does not bring about the desired result. Be consistent with your expectations and support conflict resolution between employees.
Situation 2: While employers can’t always share everything with employees, taking the time to share that you are aware of their concerns, and providing whatever information you can, often goes a long way to helping decrease this type of gossip in the workplace.
Remind employees that they have a responsibility to check on the accuracy of information. Suggest that instead of engaging in the rumour mill, if they encounter coworkers being negative about something that they were not aware of, they should come to you with their questions or concerns.
When possible, bring employees together to openly discuss their concerns. That way you can lead the discussion and provide the necessary clarifications. Be sure to follow up the initial discussions with timelines when employees can expect to hear more, especially if not all the decisions have been made.
Keeping employees informed helps them to feel appreciated. When your employees trust that they will be kept in the loop and asked for input when possible, they will tend to feel valued and stay engaged and productive.
Always remember, you get what you tolerate. Even though it's difficult to get involved and it may seem like you are doing it more than you should need to, it's critical to let your employees know what they should do if they have concerns or frustrations.