Recently, Barbara was meeting with a client who shared their gossip policy. In my decades of business experience, I’ve found that gossip is like cancer in large and small companies alike. The policy below is so well-written that, with our client’s permission, I’ve included it, intact, with only a few editorial comments. If you haven’t addressed this issue in your workplace, consider adopting a similar policy.
In the workplace, gossip is an activity that can drain, distract and downshift employee job satisfaction. We all have participated in this, yet most of us say we don’t like it. In order to create a more professional workplace, we the undersigned are making a commitment to change our atmosphere to be gossip-free.
gos·sip n. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts. Trivial, chatty talk or writing.
You’ll notice that gossip is a noun — which means it’s something you DO. That also means it’s something you choose to do — and you can choose NOT to do it. You enter into gossip by choice — you can opt out of the activity at work. In order to end gossip, you must end a particular type of communication — and that can be talk or email communications (Editorial comment: or text messages).
• Gossip always involves a person who is not present.
• Unwelcome and negative gossip involves criticizing another person.
• Gossip often is about conjecture that can injure another person’s credibility or reputation.
The persons signed below agree to the following:
In order to have a more professional, gossip-free workplace, we will:
1. Not speak or insinuate another person’s name when that person is not present unless it is to compliment or reference regarding (Editorial comment: factual) work matters.
2. Refuse to participate when another mentions a person who is not present in a negative light. I will change the subject or tell them I have agreed not to talk about another.
3. Choose not to respond to negative email or use email (Editorial comment: or text) to pass on private or derogatory information about any person in the agency.
4. While off the job, speak to another co-worker about people at work in a derogatory light. If I have feelings, I will select to talk to someone not at the workplace.
5. If another person in the department does something unethical, incorrect, against procedures, or disruptive I will use the proper channels to report this to the person in authority to take corrective action.
6. I will mind my own business, do good work, be a professional adult and expect the same from others.
Disclaimer: You may want to have an HR consultant or your labor attorney review your specific wording.