It is insidious.
It destroys team morale, as well as your firm’s productivity.
Nip it in the bud!
The Emotional Cost of Gossip
Law firms that allow gossip to flourish end up with employee issues. The person in charge of HR will spend hours every day fielding staff members who have had their feeling hurt. Additionally, employees will soon find the firm to be a miserable place to work.
The Financial Cost of Gossip
Although gossip sounds more like a relationship issue, it is also a financial one. Let’s look at a scenario to help you see the cost of gossip in the workplace.
Let’s assume that your law firm has 10 employees, with an average wage of $25 per hour. Now, let’s assume that each of these employees spends one hour a day gossiping.
The end result is that your firm would lose $5,000 a month in lost productivity. Figuring out the yearly amount makes the number seem even worse with a loss of $60,000 ever year!
Add to this the fact that miserable employees are less productive, meaning even when not gossiping, they will do less work. And finally, if the workplace is miserable, then the turnover for employees will increase. Training a new employee always takes away from the bottom line.
Staying On Top Of Gossip
So, what can be done to stop the gossip? It will take more than saying the word ‘STOP.’ You’ll have to educate and train your employees to understand that gossip affects everyone.
Your law firm can do the following to Nip it in The Bud:
Create Trust and Communication: Make sure that your staff knows that they can talk to you about a problem so that you can help create a solution before it is too late.
Set the Example: Be sure that you never participate in firm gossip. Leading by example is crucial if you want to eliminate gossip from your firm.
Encourage ‘Positive Gossip’: Positive gossip is another word for praise. Be sure to work on praising one another and sharing wins. When you see a team member go out of their way to do something positive, make sure that this ‘gossip’ is spread far and wide. Public praise can be a strong motivator!
Don’t Ignore It: Although it may be tempting to bury your head in the sand and hope that gossip goes away, that is the wrong way to deal with it. If it is not handled immediately, it will quickly get out of hand.
Help Your Team See the Impact of Gossip: Sometimes, people are unaware of how what they say about others affects the workplace. Learning of the impact can help them change their behavior.
Identify the Person Spreading Gossip: If someone comes to you saying that gossip is happening, have them confront the gossiper first. If that does nothing to change the problem, then you will need to confront the gossiper yourself. Be sure this meeting is held in private so that the employee is not subjected to embarrassment. Also, allow the gossiper to tell their side of the story. You may find out information that will help you resolve the issue. If there is a group of gossipers, you can address each individually.
Take Disciplinary Action If Needed: Sometimes, the person gossiping does not change their ways. Be sure to document each conversation so that you will have proof of the incidents. This will be important if you need to take disciplinary action or terminate an employee.
Find Solutions as a Group: Get feedback from your staff on gossip and change your firm’s culture to reflect what you learn.
Train Your Staff: Gossip is part of being human. However, if your employees understand that you have a policy in place and a plan for dealing with the issue, you’ll notice a change in behavior.
Remember, the goal is not to simply stop the gossip. Instead, you want to change the culture of your firm so that gossip is not tolerated and praise is expected.