The Root Cause of Gossip

Just one gossip on the team can erode even the strongest organizational culture. In fact, gossip is among the top contributors to a toxic culture. Not only does it destroy trust among peers, but it decreases team and individual performance.

Why do people gossip?

Considering how detrimental it can be to a team, why is it still so prevalent in the workplace? According to the Human Capital Hub, about 75% of white-collar professionals admitted to gossiping while at work.

Here are the primary reasons people engage in gossiping:

  • To bond with others. 42% of Millennials said that it builds workplace relationships.
  • To vent. 44% said that office chatter relieves their work-based stress.
  • To share information and find out about workplace happenings. Studies show that 29% of employees state that it is their primary source of knowledge about workplace happenings. 41% of millennials share this view.

How does it affect the workplace?

Gossip can be a distraction and lead to a negative work environment. Employees lose trust and become resentful, lose focus, and productivity suffers. Gossip also divides teams as people take sides. It breeds jealousy and anxiety. And, ultimately, it leads to good employees leaving the organization prematurely.

What should you do if you witness people gossiping?

If you witness gossip around you, act. This is a coaching moment. Start by defining gossip. Review any existing policies and set expectations for future behavior. If it continues, it may be time for disciplinary measures.

How can a leader prevent gossip?

  • Communicate organization happenings. When employees hear about company happenings directly from leadership, they’re less likely to seek information elsewhere.
  • Make sure your employees are engaged.
  • Encourage open conversation with staff, and be available, approachable, and transparent.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be open to suggestions from your employees and act on them quickly when appropriate.
  • Consistently enforce rules, policies, and procedures across the organization in a fair manner that is consistent with your values as an employer or organization (remembering this includes being respectful of everyone’s time).

Learn more about how to quash gossip with a healthy workplace culture. Our personalized consulting will help you evaluate your organization and rebuild a positive culture. Contact us today at (866) 686-7672 or

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe to our Articles and stay up to date on leadership practices, employee engagement, retention, and service excellence.

Submit your information below to start receiving our Baird Group articles.