Significant Stat: Workplace Gossip

Workplace Challenge

A research team at the University of Amsterdam found that 90% of office conversation qualifies as gossip. (source)

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Perspective

According to HRZone.com, gossip is “a form of informal communication among colleagues focused on the private, personal and sensitive affairs of others.” Gossip in the workplace is generally thought of as potentially damaging. However, the research from the University of Amsterdam, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, noted that “when the threat of gossip is high, participants realized a selfish choice could be used by their gossiping group members as a basis to construe a negative social reputation that could have severe consequences for them in the future.” In other words, gossip can help keep employees in line by establishing and enforcing social norms for behavior. The Ritz-Carlton establishes social norms through its culture and Gold Standards. For example, the motto of The Ritz-Carlton—“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”— preserves an atmosphere of mutual respect and thoughtful communication among employees and guests. While gossip may have some positive benefits, keeping conversation more professional is generally a safer choice.