"You are never going to believe what I just heard!" "You have to PROMISE me that you will NOT say a word, because I just gave my word I would NOT repeat this!" And so it goes, office after office, day after day. I am convinced that there is at least one person in every office who likes to stir the controversy. In Spanish, we call these people "chismosas", or troublemakers for lack of a better word. No matter what the label, these little chatter boxes are costing companies a tremendous amount of money.
If you consider a company of 35 people spending an hour per day chatting, this would cost almost $350,000 per year (based on $40 per hour x 50 weeks in salary and benefits averaged among everyone). This amount of money could be used in a more productive manner, giving bonuses to the employees who actually work during the day.
Gossip not only hurts morale, but expends an enormous amount of effort on behalf of supervisors, office managers, human resource departments, and other co-workers trying to get to the root of the problem. It is not uncommon for Office Managers and Human Resource departments to spend the majority of their working hours resolving conflicts between employees.
While some people gossip simply to make themselves feel important, the more they spread company rumors, the more these employees are resented by their fellow co-workers and are never to be trusted with confidential information. To the disbelief of many who would like to turn their heads and pretend it´s not true, much office gossip is started by Office Managers and Human Resource employees themselves. These people are placed in positions of confidentiality and they are breeching the very laws they are hired to uphold.
As an employee of a company, there are several ways you can do your part in avoiding the gossip trap. I recall a woman in one of my offices that talked about everything and everyone. My way of dealing with her was to just act extremely busy every time I saw her. Turn the situation around and ask the person a question. You need to think twice before you speak negatively of others, even if you might be trying to protect yourself from someone else´s gossip about you — just let it go. Stay away from the negative people in your company who try to ruin the morale of the office, and do not be afraid to confront people who gossip about you.
As a business owner, it is extremely important to have codes of conduct in writing so employees understand exactly what is expected of them. These policies should include what disciplinary measures will be taken if the event a policy is breached. There are so many issues related to conduct, therefore, I will discuss each one in great detail in future posts.
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." ~Mark Twain