January 6, 2020
New research from The University of Salford’s Professor Kirk Chang, Professor of Human Resource Management, claims that workplace gossip can sometimes have a positive impact on employees. Published in the January 2020 issue of The Chinese Journal of Psychology, the study involved 307 employees in 24 companies operating in a range of industries in Taiwan. The research suggests that 61 percent of gossip in the workplace is positive, and while the impact is not hugely significant, it could be considered beneficial. Professor Chang concludes that by encouraging a more open attitude towards positive workplace gossip, water cooler chat should not be viewed as wasting time, but as an important mechanism for facilitating interactions and developing relationships.
Conversely, the study also suggests that negative gossip causes employees to have feelings of cynicism, frustration, hopelessness and contempt towards the employer, thereby undermining management and the organisation as a whole. Cynics at work are more suspicious of the motives of their employers and believe that managers may exploit their contributions.
- 61 percent of the workplace gossip are positive or positive-oriented
- Only negative gossip causes employee cynicism
- Employee cynicism is an attitude characterised by frustration, hopelessness, and contempt towards the employing organisation
- Employee cynicism undermines managers, organisations, and human resource management, for example cynics at work disbelieve the motives of their employers and believe that their managers may exploit their contributions
- Not all gossip is negative and encouraging a more open attitude towards positive workplace gossip could be beneficial. For example, water cooler and serendipitous conversations should not be viewed as wasting time but as an important mechanism for venting or facilitating interactions
Image by Yvette W