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Five Ways to Combat Office Gossip

August 14, 2001
Related Topics: Corporate Culture, Featured Article
Here’s how HR can reduce the problemsassociated with office gossip:
  • Keep employees informed. Whenemployees know what’s going on within an organization, particularlywith regard to company directives, promotions, and potential actions, they’refar less inclined to speculate. Effective communication can take place online,through a newsletter, and at weekly face-to-face departmental meetings.

  • Help build a culture that’ssupportive rather than overly competitive. The worst gossip and mobbingproblems often occur at organizations where the climb to the top is ruthless.HR can aid workers by instituting support systems, including counselingfor those who instigate or wind up as the target of gossip. It’s alsoimportant to educate senior management about the problem.

  • Let workers know that maliciouspersonal gossip is not acceptable. Attacking other employees -- whetherout of boredom or dislike for an individual, or for political gain -- cancreate severe tension, animosity, and organizational problems. It’salso not fair to the victim. Employees should know how damaging it is topartake in gossip and mobbing.

  • Deal with rumors immediately.Left unchecked, a rumor can quickly spiral out of control. It can quicklysap energy and productivity as workers spend time speculating about thingsrather than getting work done. When a problem arises, talk to employeesindividually and, if necessary, set up a meeting between the victim andthose spreading the rumor.

  • Confront chronic offenders.Those who spend an inordinate amount of time gossiping should know thatthe behavior is not acceptable. One way to deal with the issue is to addressa perceived problem during an employee evaluation. However, it might alsobe necessary to sit an offender down and discuss the problem when it occurs.

Workforce, July 2001, p. 26-- SubscribeNow!

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