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How Gossip Leads to a Dysfunctional Workplace

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1456
  • Category: Workplace

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Ronnetta Marchand-Colllns university of Redlands When starting a new job, new hires expect to be greeted with happy faces and cheerfully welcomed to the company. While working in a small company, the Trainer or Office Manager usually takes the new employee around the offce and introduces that person to everyone and explains what their primary duties consists of, where to find supplies, and who to go to in need of help, etc. sually, the first day is very laid back and one can say it was an awesome day and they look forward to what omorrow brings.

However, what If that day started off as the complete opposite? What If that day began with the Trainer or Office Manager taking the new hire around and telling them who all of their new co-workers are, the posltlve and negative aspects about each person, discussed personal Information Including that of family relationships and leaves this day being exhausting; It causes the new employee to second guess if this is an awesome place to work after all (Orzoco, 1994).

Gossip often leads to a dysfunctional workplace. Ultimately, gossip focuses on the negative views of one erson or one group of people and can cause a viral effect of employee tensions, communication deficiencies, and the two together are bad for morale. According to Baker (1996), Janet Woititz once wrote in a book titled Home away from Home, “In many ways, the workplace is home away from home. Co-workers become siblings and the people in authority take on the role of parent” (Baker, 1996).

This Is often the case when working in a small company and because of this, friendships and/or groups are formed and It Is understood that communication lines are open and people are free to express themselves to their peers, rather It be ositive or negative. Trust should never be an Issue, right? wrongl Because the workplace is now looked at like a “Home Away from Home”, feelings get involved and the professionalism is thrown out of the door.

Baker (1996) states “Supervisors and employees who have been victims of need- based behavior (maintaining the focus on meeting individual emotional needs, being most concerned about getting personal needs met rather than goals set for the organization) in the home, no doubt, will be vulnerable to trapping themselves in similar relationships In the workplace” (Baker, 1996). For example, one can argue that he Trainer or Office Manager in the piece Orientation written by Daniel Orozco comes from a place where everyone’s strengths and short comings need to be known from the beginning to prevent confrontation or misunderstandings.

Someone else could argue that this Information Is an Invasion of privacy and Is Just gossip. When one party looks at it as a positive thing and the other as a negative, the tension is at Gossip, as Webster Dictionary (n. d. ) defines it, “is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. ” It is usually started due to dysfunctional characteristics of the people involved. Dysfunctional characteristics create barriers to open communication, both horizontal and vertical, within an organization.

Gossip can lead to the destruction of relationships and close friendships. For example, Cindy and I were friends for about eight years. We had never had an argument until she went on vacation last year and all sorts of problems were uncovered with the billing. The owner of the company decided to revamp things a little and Cindys role in the company changed. She went from Office Manager to Operations Manager, thus leaving me to do the billing.

One would think eing friends she would come to me if she had any problems with the situation and talk about it, but instead, she tells everyone else in the firm her issues and Just gives me attitude. This behavior rolled into so many situations that our friendship is not only over, but our lines of communication are completely broken and we walk past each other as strangers every day. When topics need to be discussed between us, they are cut and dry and straight to the point however, the snickers and whispers are still lurking around.

In the above example it also shows how gossip creates hostility which blocks work flow thus being unproductive. Gossip can become expensive for the employer. When an employer feels they have two good employees and don’t want to let go of either one, they often bring in outside sources to mediate or counsel the employees and offer a solution to the problem. Now, instead of two employees billing at their standard billing rates, they are both not billing at all and the employer is paying an expensive fee for the consultant; expensive!

Gossip also goes viral, becomes wide spread and almost becomes the norm. With the tension being high and communication lines being closed, we find ourselves in a work environment ispleasing to work in. The employee morale is low and there is no since of team work. Employees begin to wonder if their Jobs are secure, begin to do the bare minimum Just to keep their Jobs and before you know it, work is backing up and not going out the door or work is going out the door with errors making the company look inefficient.

Gossip has been defined and the effects have been discussed, so the question remains, what can employers offer to avoid gossip in the work place and to prevent chaos? It is believed if communication stays open and there are policies and rocedures in place, outlining in them specifically the repracautions of gossip and offering alternatives as solutions then gossip will be limited and the workplace would be more functional and professional. How do we do this? Baker proposed an awesome solution using “employee awareness education” (Baker, 1996).

The notion would be for employees to understand the relationship between work and home and why the behavior may overflow in either direction. They would have training and a new understanding of how a work environment should be set up, how work would flow and how to professionally communicate with their peers and with management. This education will offer a band aid to some of the existing problems and create an avenue to prevent future problems from arising.

Baker also proposed having the employees “commit to breaking the gossip chain” (Baker, 1996). If employees had a reliable Human Resource department, it would be healthy for them to go to that environment should be made comfortable enough to go directly to the source and cut out the middle man and prevent the he said/she said drama. This solution also allows for each party to read the body language of the other party and try to come to happy medium or involve management if it cannot be settled amongst the two involved.

This almost should be done immediately and not prolonged over time. Some people may need to complain and have a venting session, which can sometimes be healthy as well, however, not in the workplace. There needs to be someone they can talk to outside of the workplace who can offer advice or give examples of how they handled similar situations in their workplace. Workshops can then be set up for team building to bring the team back together.

Employees will need to separate business and personal relationships and remain professional in the orkplace. There are times when upper management can see the beginning of communication barriers. At that moment, managers should step in and not overlook the problem that can lead to a potential disaster. Employers often do not hire family and friends to prevent gossip in the work place. It is the responsibility of management to provide a safe and comfortable work environment for their employees.

This can be done through various workshops, employee education and a code of conduct, which strictly outlines there is no gossip allowed in the work place. Staying away from conversations where there is hearsay going on about others in the ork environment, leaving the lines of communication open with everyone, even the people you have difficulty getting along with, making everyone that comes to you with gossip aware that you don’t intend to engage in the activity and taking unresolved issues to Human Resources will create a stable and productive work environment.

If there is a need to vent, and there isn’t a person outside of work that can be confided in, then there are other resources. There are websites, as well as 800 numbers out there they offers people an opportunity to vent or contact resourceful people to help ith the anxiety caused by problems at work. There is always a solution to every problem. Both parties can agree, both parties can agree to disagree or there can be a compromise somewhere in the middle.

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