Supervisors need to regularly communicate with their employees about what’s going on in the workplace. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on in the workplace – future plans, etc. Employees need to feel part of the process of the company – especially in small businesses – and if they don’t, they’ll make it up in the form of speculation and “gossip.” The attention and communication will work wonders in stopping the gossip.
Incorporate into your Employee Handbook a policy that discourages employees from spreading of gossip and rumors. For example:
Do not participate in spreading gossip and rumors, and do not tolerate it from others. Rumor and gossip sabotages the team’s ability to work together effectively. It is disrespectful, nonproductive, and a selfishly motivated act that impedes employees from performing their jobs. If you hear about an issue that pertains directly to you, verify the accuracy of the information by asking the supervisor or the coworker involved, rather than simply passing on the information.
Tell the rumormonger that you’re aware of his/her behavior. Describe how his/her behavior results in others not trusting them because no one wants to be the subject of the “gossip.” For some, this single statement will be a realization that will result in immediate change. You should also describe the impact the employee’s behavior has on the workplace and that his/her continued participation in the spreading of rumors and gossip is a violation of the company policy.
Incorporate the impact the employee’s behavior has had on the workplace in his/her performance evaluations.