Sholem Aleichem once said that “gossip is nature’s telephone,” but whether or not gossip is natural, it can be bad for business. When negative, destructive gossip starts infiltrating an office, it can quickly destroy a positive company culture. When caregivers begin talking about their clients, you also have a potential legal problem on your hands, which can be crippling to a growing agency. To prevent and eliminate destructive gossip in the workplace, here are a few helpful measures that providers and supervisors can implement with their employees.
Get your facts straight
If you’ve recognized that gossip is spreading around the office, start by talking with your managers about what has been going around. Ask them what they’ve heard and from whom so that you have an idea of where the gossip is coming from and what’s being spread. Getting your information right is a good way to know where the root of the problem is and to form a plan for taking care of it.
Talk to the repeat offenders
Though gossip usually has many perpetrators, you can generally pinpoint a few key offenders who continually spread negative information. To cut off gossip at its source, speak with these individuals one-on-one and in private and explain the negative impact that their behavior has on the office. Let them know of the potential consequences if this behavior continues, and let them know that if they hear any rumors that you would like them to take it to you directly so that you can get the facts straight.
Have managers meet with their teams
If gossip has become an office-wide problem, have managers meet with their teams and discuss the ramifications of negative gossip and ways to change company culture to support positivity and unity. Ask for ideas from your employees and form a plan to create a more constructive office environment.
Set the example
Supervisors and leaders need to be the trendsetters in ending gossip. It is not enough to listen to gossip and not spread it yourself; you must also shut it down when it comes to you. Show your employees what constitutes appropriate conversation and behavior by modeling it yourself. Your employees will come to understand that you’re neither a source nor a deposit for negative information.
Gossip usually derives from poor communication. Perhaps employees were not well-informed about the details and limits of client-caregiver confidentiality, or maybe a poorly explained change in policy has left your caregivers confused and frustrated with management. The simple solution is to open up communication. Whenever there is a change in policy, be clear and upfront about it. Set the example in the way you communicate with the company, and show that information that’s worth spreading won’t need to be shared in whispers.
As Walter Winchell put it, “Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.” While it’s true that gossip is often without substance, it is nevertheless damaging to an office culture. Taking initiative and gaining control before gossip can get out of hand will promote greater trust between employees and management and help to rebuild a positive office environment.