There’s a major difference between speaking about someone and speaking to someone at work. When you are collaborating, sharing ideas, and welcoming feedback you are speaking to that person (manager, colleague, boss, supervisor, etc); when you are speaking about the people in the office, you are gossiping. Gossip leads to decreased productivity because instead of doing something fruitful, you’re being distracted. Can chitchat ruin employee engagement? Yes, it can.
How are people engaging with each other at work?
Employees are responsible for their own engagement at work. We’re not just referring to their professional relation with supervisors and managers, but also to the way they perform their jobs. Gossiping by the coffee machine seems harmless and debating someone’s personal relationship with someone else seems so engaging. But did it ever occur to you that these innocent chitchats may lead to the creation of a destructive and dangerous work environment?
How can leaders persuade employees to stop gossiping? Chatting every single day for two hours and not doing their jobs slows down your company’s output. When workers are too busy discussing irrelevant matters, the work space become a negative environment. Struggling to boost engagement and inspire workers to stay motivated is not an easy job. Managers and CEOs should make use of sensible strategies to persuade employees. Using wrong techniques can also lead to gossip.
Are leaders affected by employees who gossip?
No, they are not. It’s natural for a leader (CEO, supervisor, manager, etc.) to be talked behind their backs and most of them are used to being criticized by employees on a daily basis. Gossip affects engagement and output though, because rather than remaining focused on their duties, workers are too busy discussing their boss’s personal life. Gossip slows down productivity because supervisors have to spend a lot of time figuring out who said what to whom. The situation worsens when supervisors have to explain the problem to managers.
“Why can’t you find a more productive way to manage your team?” “Why are they being so uncreative?” These are common questions leaders have to deal with when gossip becomes a main topic of discussion at the office.
Office disrupters and their effects on employee engagement
Gossip has a great impact on employee engagement. This activity is generally triggered by office disrupters, who are employees used to chatting all day long with peers and ignore their duties. There are several specific types of disrupters that can affect company productivity and morale. The gossiper is one of them.
Can leaders put an end to gossiping? Yes, they can as long as they use the right strategies. Negative gossip creates productivity, morale, turnover, and engagement issues. In some situations, it can lead to liability problems when insidious gossip becomes malicious harassment. Here are some tips to put an end to negative gossip at the office:
- Spot the gossipers and talk to them individually – pick a confidential location and approach the discussion with poise and professionalism. Help them understand that their behavior is unacceptable and that it may lead to dreadful consequences
- Organize a team meeting – talk to the whole team about the negative effects gossip has on morale and productivity
- Encourage positive gossip – leaders should encourage this form of gossip because it fosters positive thinking and increases engagement.
- Leaders who are gossipers themselves should stop – everybody gossips, even the leader. Stop doing it because you will encourage your people to do the same thing. Keep things professional try not to talk about colleagues behind their back
Permitting negative gossiping at the workplace may lead to distrust and negative turnover. This increases the legal liability of the company and decreases productivity. Managers should act fast – if you can’t find the time to put an end to gossip, it will eventually become unstoppable.
Gossip can be assimilated with a disease or virus that wreaks havoc around the workspace and disrupts employees’ abilities to perform their duties. Don’t allow gossip to flourish because it will eventually ruin every effort you’ve put into training your people. Be the professional type of leader, encourage your people to socialize but train them to stay productive, committed, and engaged.