This week I read an article about ‘anti gossip’ policies being implemented in workplaces. When I did some research I discovered that this is quite a common policy to have in place in many industries.
You may think of workplace gossip as harmless, but in reality it can potentially destroy your workplace, breach privacy and destroy reputations and careers.
The privacy issue is a really big concern. In a workplace we try to establish trusting relationships and friendships. Often in our day to day work lives we feel the need to debrief with friends and discuss issues that are concerning us. These issues may be personal, family, work or health related, but how can we be sure that they won’t be passed on to third parties and used in a way to discredit or damage us in the future? Are we guilty of doing the same?
We all have a right to privacy and we should ensure that we respect others privacy as well. Things told to us in confidence should be kept confidential. We have no right to speculate or gossip about others health, religious beliefs, cultural practices, sexuality, political affiliations, family life or mental health etc.
One no gossip policy I read prohibited discussing a person’s personal life and medical history when they were not present, discussing a person’s professional life without their supervisor present, negative or untrue comments about a person, injuring a person’s reputation or sharing a rumour about the person.
Services have policies on confidentiality, privacy and ethical conduct. It would be interesting to know how many have ‘anti gossip’ policies and how effective these are.
Gossip can also be about workplace practices and this can tear a team apart instead of bringing them together. If your employer is open to hearing work concerns and values everyone’s input into decision making, then this goes a long way to ensuring a harmonious and gossip free workplace.
We should be encouraged to get problems fixed by talking to our management about them. Unfortunately, some employers can inadvertently cause workplace gossip to fester by not listening enough to their staff, and ignoring their issues. Employers should have an open door policy, where staff are encouraged to bring problems up the chain instead of griping to people who can’t fix the issue. In return, employers listen to their staff’s concern, fix them, and send the solutions down.
We all want and need happy work environments, but we all have to take responsibility for contributing to and maintain such environments.