Workplace Gossip: Three Approaches that Capitalize on the Rumour Mill
If you are a business owner, chances are that you have seen, heard or read about stories breaking in the major media about employees of other companies who suddenly come out of the woodwork to express potentially damaging views of their employers. This is done in different ways: through writing complaints on social media to spreading workplace gossip about layoffs to sending a recorded video out into the ether that then goes viral. Unfortunately, in all of these cases, the company’s public relations people are essentially powerless to conduct any effective damage control, and the reputation of the whole business suffers regardless of whether the allegations are true or false.
The last thing you want is for your company to suffer a similar incident. Fortunately, if you are able to approach your business’s current situation with a clear head, you can craft a strategy for communications and employee relations, mitigating much of this damage before it hits the public spotlight. While employees who are discontented with their jobs often connect online with other spreaders of workplace gossip, you can also cultivate a group of positive-thinking people within the company to promote the business’s interests.
The Silent Approach
Though it may seem to some like an antiquated notion, the higher-ups of many businesses maintain that the best way to prevent negative stories from getting out is to simply forbid employees from speaking about the company in public at all. However, these kinds of restrictions don’t do very much in the modern age of technology, because there are so many outlets on the internet through which disgruntled employees can anonymously make workplace gossip public. The bad part about this is that even though the worker’s name isn’t directly attached to these statements, the chances are that his or her coworkers as well as company stockholders will still get wind of it, potentially sowing seeds of anxiety or doubt in their minds.
A More Open Minded Policy
As a further means of restricting what employees can and cannot say about their jobs, many firms choose to implement technological means to prevent the use of any kind of social media by computers and other devices connected to the company network. While this ironclad approach might keep some portion of workplace gossip from getting out of control, the reality is that it also risks making your workers feel like there is constantly someone looking over their shoulders. It’s patronizing and can often cause more problems than it solves.
Instead, if you acknowledge the fact that social networks have become an integral part of modern personal and professional communication, there are ways in which you can actually turn your employees’ use of them to your favor. Take some time to train and empower your employees in the basics of marketing and branding. This way, they will feel that you are placing trust in them rather than acting out of suspicion, and the company gets additional positive buzz in the public eye.
Solutions to Negative Rumors
It is a good idea, with both your veteran and new employees, that you have a strategy for harnessing the power of social media to elevate the company, and that you express a need for their help in order to make it work well. This further empowers the workers while also saying in a subtle, yet pointed way that you are perfectly capable of identifying and addressing any detrimental use of social media within the business.
After this discussion, put company resources in place to conduct active listening online. These people will be responsible for keeping their eyes and ears open for any potentially unflattering rumors that find their way onto the internet. They can then directly respond to this gossip before it spreads and mutates. There are free tools available to monitor your company’s presence and reputation on the internet. Alternatively, you can invest money in technology that collects all mentions of the business from a host of media outlets into a single report that is easy to interpret.
Sticks and Stones
Ultimately, regardless of the technological and verbal safeguards you put in place, the time is going to come in which negative news or nasty workplace gossip gets out because the interests of an employee simply aren’t aligned with those of the company. However, if you have taken the time to cultivate a positive reputation with the majority of your employees, they can prove to be your best defense, showing that the upset individual is an anomaly rather than a representative of his or her coworkers. Use the resources available through Mighty Recruiter to continue to find more innovative ways to improve your company.