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23rd August 2013

Workplace Gossip

My colleague recently asked me to deal with a post-resignation grievance that she had received from an employee who had just left her Residential care home . I wrote out to the ex employee and arranged a Grievance hearing, and we met together to discuss her concerns she had whilst working in the home.

The ex employee had become distressed after hearing from other members of staff that the Manager had been complaining about her performance at work. Relations had broken down to such an extent, the ex employee had felt she had no other option but to resign from her post.

I asked if she had spoken to the Manager to discuss her concerns, she replied “no”. I asked if the Manager had approached her directly to raise any issues over her performance, she said “no”, but other members of staff had told her. She confirmed which members of staff had told her and so after our meeting I made arrangements to meet with these individuals to discuss what they had witnessed.

After interviewing staff, it quickly became apparent that actually no one had heard the Manager criticise the performance of the ex employee, they had heard it from someone else. One individual explained ‘this is a very gossipy place’.

I am used to dealing with a dispersed workforce in Homecare, so this issue doesn’t come up very often. I realised that the relationships between staff working so closely within a Residential unit would clearly be different and, if not managed correctly, could be detrimental to the running of the service.

Relationships between all staff members should be conducted in ways that are respectful, fair, balanced, non-oppressive and appropriate. Implicit in the expectation that staff members will treat each other with dignity and respect, is the belief that people should refrain from gossiping about their colleagues.  Gossip is a significant corrosive force within staff groups and is of no value in promoting good outcomes for our Service users.  Individuals need, and should receive, feedback on their performance at work and good practice would suggest that this should be offered and received in a positive and constructive way.

If members of staff have views on their colleagues' conduct or performance they should be encouraged to progress these by talking to their colleagues, not about them.  It should be outlined to staff that they are expected not to indulge in gossip about colleagues and they should be encouraged to challenge this behaviour in others, should they encounter it.

Staff who treat each other with dignity and respect will enjoy positive and mutually supportive relationships with their colleagues.  However, in any group of people, differences invariably arise which can lead to dispute and difficulties within relationships.  In such situations, the expectation is that these differences will be addressed and resolved so as to achieve a positive outcome for all concerned.  It is such a shame that in my recent experience, gossip caused such an issue that a good member of staff left her post and was unwilling to return after she was advised of the findings of my investigation.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Rosie Robinson

Domiciliary Care Specialist

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