Gossip in the workplace essay

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Gossipin the workplace

Gossipat the places of work is a common phenomenon in the contemporaryworld. The majority of the employees find it easy to share anddisseminate information amongst with each other, in spite of the factthat each organization has the formal channels of communicating withits members of staff. It is estimated that about 90 % of allemployees have engaged in gossips at least once in their life(Ferrari 1). The same data indicated that about 70 % of theconversations that take place at the places of work on a daily basisare comprised of gossips. This paper will focus on the nature ofworkplace gossip, negative as well as positive effects, and themethods of managing gossip at the places of work.

Thenature of gossip

Thetrue nature of gossip is determined by the impact that it has on theorganization or the members of staff. Gossip can either be negativeor positive depending on the perspective from which it is beingviewed from (Ellwardt 52). A workplace gossip can only be consideredto be positive if it contributes towards the organizationalperformance. Negative gossip, on the other hand, has adverse effectson the organizational operations. Some gossip may seem to benefit agroup of employees, but they are still classified as negative as longas they do not enhance the performance of the organization.

Negativeeffects of workplace gossiping

Workplacegossiping has two major negative effects. The first and the mostimportant effect is the waste of time. Employers recruit workers withthe objective of increasing efficiency and profitability of theirorganizations. However, the achievement of this objective depends onthe amount of time that each of the employees spends doingjob-related tasks (Gobind 116). Employees are hardly able to gossipwhile working at the same time. This implies that they stop working,gather, and start gossiping. This reduces their commitment to workand the overall productivity of the organization. Secondly, workplacegossip causes conflict among employees. Gossips that hurt thefeelings of other employees or the managers arouse emotions, and theycan lead to fights among the members of staff. This is common amongemployees who cannot control their emotions. These employees expresstheir emotions by attacking members of staff who gossip about them(Gobind 116).

Positiveeffects of workplace gossiping

Althoughthe term “gossip” has a negative connotation in the society, themajority of the scholars agree that it is several positive effects onthe organization and the employees. Gossip is considered to be one ofthe most common mechanisms of sharing information in the modernworkstations. Some scholars have classified gossip as the mostefficient means of collecting and disseminating information amongemployees (Ferrari 2). This is because gossipers do not require theformal procedures (such as writing of memos) to share information.For example, employees had shared about 517,431 emails about theEnron scandal, one of the largest frauds in the American history thatoccurred in 2001, long before the regulators could start theirinvestigations (Toth 1).

Inaddition, gossip has been identified to be an effective method that anumber of employees use to release their pent-up emotions, whichreduce the chances of these members of staff attacking others.Moreover, studies have shown that workplace gossiping has thecapacity to offer intellectual stimulation, especially to employeeswho work in monotonous jobs (Ellwardt 4). For example, the majorityof the factory workers who do jobs that require a little cognitivechallenge depend on gossips to prevent boredom and stimulate theirbrains. Additionally, most of the gossipers who get intellectualstimulation from gossips tend to foster interpersonal intimacy withtheir coworkers through the gossip.

Howto manage and fix workplace gossip

Althoughworkplace gossip may have some benefits to the organization, it isimportant to manage it in order to ensure that employees spend moretime doing work-related tasks. The management can fix the negativegossip by addressing the key perpetrators. These perpetrators can bewarned, punished, or dismissed depending on the impact of the gossip(Quast 1). However, preventing the occurrence of the workplace gossipis more effective than fixing one that has already occurred.Organizations can prevent the occurrence of the negative gossip bydeveloping policies and a culture that will facilitate the growth ofthe type of behavior that they wish to see in the organization. Forexample, an organization that keeps its key communication lines openencourage transparency that give employees the opportunity to reportissues to the management, instead of gossiping around (Quast 1). Thisis because transparency gives employees a more efficient and reliablemeans of accessing and sharing information than gossip.


Workplacegossip is common in the modern workplaces and it has both negativeand positive impacts on the organization. On the positive side,gossip provides an easy way of sharing information, releasingnegative emotions, and getting intellectual stimulation for theemployees. On the negative side, gossip stimulates conflicts amongthe members of staff. It also leads to the waste of time, whichreduces the overall productivity of the organization. However,workplace gossip can be managed effectively by addressing the keyperpetrators and enhancing transparency in order to encourageemployees to source and share information through the formalchannels.


Ellwardt,L. “Hearing it through the grapevine: Positive and negativeworkplace gossip”. OrganizationalDynamics41 (2012): 52-61. Print.

Ferrari,F. Inpraise of gossip the organizational functions and practicalapplications of rumors in the workplace.Dorsoduro: ‘Cà Foscari’ University, 2015. Print.

Gobind,J. &amp Ukpere, I. “Idle gossip and dismissal: A breeding groundfor workplace litigation”. Journalof Communication4.2 (2013): 111-112. Print.

Toth,M. The terribly destructive impact of workplace gossip. EreMedia.15 June. 2012. Web. 19 May 2016.

Quast,L. New managers: Five ways to stop negative office gossip. Forbes.14 October. 2013. Web. 19 May 2016.