There are two constants in a work environment. One, no one wants to clean the coffee pot; two, rumors grow at an unimaginable rate. This is not necessarily a reflection of your work environment. While we all may claim to be “above gossip,” it’s a basic human behavior engrained deep into our pre-historic brains. Workplace gossip, however, can be determinantal to the health and safety of your workers. It is not possible to quash rumors and stop them from ever emerging; there are a few steps you can take to help stay ahead of rumors—and ensure they don’t end up affecting your bottom line!
When to worry about rumors at an organizational level
One thing you don’t want to be doing is acting as judge and jury about rumors of employees’ personal lives. Personal rumors do not need to be addressed companywide or publicly. This blog is solely focused on organizational rumors, such as rumors about a change in management, ownership, expansion, or even layoffs.
As an internal communicator or executive, your job is to have a pulse on the attitude and beliefs of your workforce. Are people worried about job stability? Are there rumors that you’re about to be bought out? Are there significant organizational changes coming up? This is the kind of workplace gossip you need to worry about—and have a tried-and-true plan to combat.
The role of active comms in quelching workplace gossip
We’ve spoken about the term “active comms” and its benefits. When you are active in your communications, you are putting out official sources before rumors take control of the narrative. This requires excellent communication between the comms team and the leadership team.
For example, suppose your organization will be merging with a competitor. In that case, you want your leadership team to tell the comms team ASAP, certainly, before they tell an employee that otherwise would not have been aware of the merger. Once word gets out through whispers on Teams or Slacks (or the good old-fashioned water cooler), you’re immediately playing defense—and having to answer to many disgruntled employees about why they had to hear this from Susan and not their manager.
When you are aware of big events that are coming up, you can work to create a plan to get ahead of chitter chatter—by scheduling emails, Push messages, intranet announcements, and even town halls that keep employees informed from a trusted source—and not through a game of office telephone.
How an intranet gets ahead of workplace gossip
When you launch an intranet, you’re launching what will quickly become a “single source of truth” for your organization. This means that employees will trust your intranet as the place to get the latest information and know it is accurate. Using the tools built-in to your intranet, such as Push communications, calendars, and read & agrees—you allow employees to verify gossip and get the whole story from a trusted source.
Suppose you’re governing your intranet properly and constantly driving adoption. In that case, this will become ingrained into your workforce—and more dubious sources of information will be questioned more harshly, quelling workplace gossip. However, if your intranet is falling to the wayside and is filled with old, outdated, and irrelevant information, you no longer enjoy the benefits of having a single source of truth—and are allowing rumors and imaginations to run wild.
Beware of what may be driving workplace gossip
It’s essential to realize why workplace gossip may be at an all-time high in your organization. Is remote work making it harder for employees to connect, resulting in them gossiping more? Use your intranet and internal comms as a source of fun by promoting fun community events, sharing group photos, and planning out a mix of in-person and online team-building activities.
Alternatively, we are experiencing economic turbulence, and the constant news of shrinking GDP and large-scale layoffs can be stressing your employees out. If you’re not aware and even addressing, these things can cause imaginations to go to catastrophic outcomes and doomsday rumors to take hold of the narrative quickly. As a communicator, your job is to understand the comms narrative in your organization, and internal comms tools and software can make that easier.
Workplace gossip, meet IC
If you don’t have software in place to ensure you’re staying on top of workplace gossip, now may be the time to book a demo and try Intranet Connections’ software. When you partner with us, you get more than just a product, you get an expert team who will help you hone the perfect internal comms strategy and help you every step of the way!