Ask HR: How Do We Address Gossip in the Office?
Ask HR: How Do We Address Gossip in the Office?

Ask HR: How Do We Address Gossip in the Office?

Gossip can run rampant almost anywhere, especially during challenging or changing times. What's an HR professional to do when gossip gets out of control at work? Our pals at HR Support Center have some advice.

Question:

What’s the best way to address gossip in the workplace? It’s getting out of hand at our office.

Answer from Sarah, HR Pro:

Office gossip can quickly become harmful to your business and your workers, so it’s best to take a comprehensive approach and respond quickly to complaints. When possible, be proactive. Here are a few recommendations:

* Address office gossip in your employee handbook, either by name or by prohibiting any conduct that creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. Just make sure your policy is not overly broad or might violate an employee’s rights under section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

* Discuss the issue of gossip during team meetings and especially with management, who should set the right example for everyone.

* Train employees to recognize when they are gossiping and why they shouldn’t gossip in the office. Provide them with ways to remove themselves from a conversation or to direct a conversation back to company-related work. You may want to consider seminars or workshops if the gossip persists.

* Implement a clear, simple process for employees to inform you when malicious gossip or other harassment has occurred and for you to respond immediately to complaints.

It is also important to take a look at the subject matter of the gossip to determine if a bigger issue is at work. Gossip frequently increases, for example, when a company undergoes a big change and management is shy about the details. In a case such as this, over-communicating both the good and the bad to employees helps to eliminate the guessing and creative conspiracy theories that employees invent when management has passed on few substantial facts.

No employer can eliminate gossip completely, but by taking a comprehensive approach to gossip and to any issues underlying it, you can address the matter before it creates liability, hurts morale, or increases turnover.

Sarah, HR Pro*Sarah has extensive Human Resources experience in the legal, software, security and property preservation industries. She has a Business Communications degree from Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) and a master’s certificate in Human Resources Management and a Strategic Organizational Leadership certification from Villa Nova University. Sarah is also a member of the National Society of Human Resources Management and has managed the HR function for small startup companies to mid-sized/large organizations.*


Lack of communication during changing times is one reason gossip is spread. Does your organization have effective change management processes in place? Learn more about managing change effectively by downloading our Change Management whitepaper.

More to Discover

Case Study: Boulder Country Club

Case Study: Boulder Country Club

Paycor’s enhanced implementation service model creates a fast start for Boulder Country Club. “The transition to Paycor has been amazing. The hands-on guidance and support they offered during implementation saved us so much time. Paycor took control of the entire process so I could focus on other things.” - Amber Maranya, HR Director, Boulder Country Club Prior to Paycor Boulder Country Club is a private club that serves 850 members across northern Colorado and offers everything from golf and tennis to fitness and swimming. Their previous HR & payroll platform was designed for small businesses and couldn’t easily track hours worked for commissioned employees. After evaluating multiple well-known providers, HR Director Amber Maranya...

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

Everyone needs a plan to fall back on if and when an employee gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19. Below you'll find the step-by-step guide on how your company should proceed if one of your employees tests positive for Coronavirus.Get Communication Letter Template to Use if Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 6 Steps To Take If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 Offer Support We’re all moving fast in this new world and it can feel like we’re flying blind, so this is just a reminder of what you already know: if an employee lets you know they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, take a moment to be there for them. As a leader of your company, there are of course professional limitations of what “being there” means—you won’t be able...

Emergency Sick Leave for Childcare: What Employers Need to Know About FFCRA

Emergency Sick Leave for Childcare: What Employers Need to Know About FFCRA

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a big part of the government response to the current public health crisis, offering emergency sick leave and paid family medical leave to those affected by Coronavirus. Take a look at our guide on managing employee leave scenarios.The FFRCA doesn’t just apply to employees who are directly affected by the virus—those who are infected, caring for the infected or quarantined. It also puts in place measures for the parents or guardians of children whose schools or day care facilities are closed due to the pandemic.These measures will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. How Does the FFCRA Work for Parents? If an employee has been on payroll for at least 30 days and cannot...

Essential Business Letter (Template)

Essential Business Letter (Template)

Many states and cities are imposing complete or partial lockdowns, with most businesses forced to temporarily shut their doors or move to remote work and only “essential businesses” unaffected. This has left many employers and employees asking what exactly counts as an essential business.Download Essential Business Letter Template What Counts as an Essential Business? On March 19, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security) issued guidance on what business count as critical infrastructure. Some businesses are obviously essential—hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement. The list is extensive—other essential businesses include stores selling supplies which allow people to...