As human resources specialists, we know that office gossip can be damaging to a company. Gossip tends to be related to interpersonal relationships, and is often malicious in nature. It can get out of control quickly, and should be addressed promptly before it leads to harassment or bullying which can have serious negative outcomes in an organization.
All employers are required to take steps to eliminate, where possible, or otherwise minimize the risks to workers from bullying and harassment in the workplace through their human resources programs. WorkSafeBC has developed OHS policies to help workers, employers and supervisors prevent and address workplace bullying and harassment. Human resource programs can be designed to eliminate bullying in the workplace
That being said, we tend to consider office gossip as being simple and harmless. People will gossip to attract attention and feel important. It is also an attempt by those not in the know to get in the know. It may seem harmless to chitchat and debate over someone’s relationship with someone else, but it can be dangerous and destructive in the workplace. In the same way, during times of rapid change and uncertainty in an organization, gossip will naturally increase due to fear and anticipated negative outcomes.
The role of leaders in such circumstances is to be a source of reassurance to the employees as well as being firm when it comes to pure gossips among employees. Human resources specialists are also available to help companies stop bullying and gossip. Sometimes there may be a kernel of truth and this has to be uncovered before addressing the problem and prevent it from leading to bullying and harassment as mentioned above.
An article written on January 23, 2014 by Crystal Spraggins, Human Resources Specialist ‘Nobody has a good name in a bad mouth: The dangers of office gossip’ reminds us of the dangers of office gossip.
Denise Groem / Human Resource Administrator / PEO Canada