Workplace gossip or office grapevine, on the face of it, seems detrimental, unnecessary and a waste of time. After all why would one allow potentially strategic information to be leaked? It could be harmful to an organization, create unexpected disharmony amongst employees and all of it at the cost of individuals, who stand a chance to lose their respect if not jobs!
Yet, experienced HR professionals suggest that the grapevine is a vital tool for management. First, it creates a strong bond among the gossiping employees, indirectly making the team stronger. Gossip is shared only when a sentiment, positive or negative, is common between individuals. This means that gossip gives an opportunity for employees to bond. This bond creates camaraderie among the like-minded people. Thus, the work stress reduces and employees look forward to come to work every day. Constructive office gossip can be an informal team development tool!
Also, grapevine can be used for receiving feedback on many un-released policies by the top management. Grapevine, it is said, travels faster than any other form of information transfer. Within no time the employees would know excerpts of the policy and would discuss their views. The views of these people serve as a clear indication of how the response will be to these new policies.
Let’s say that grapevine cannot be done away with completely. The top management needs to use the grapevine wisely. Negative rumors can create a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. However, the right gossip can help in team building and also get important feedback for policies.