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Curtailing Toxic Workplace Environment

Gossip in the workplace can lead to disastrous consequences if Living Facility
Management is unaware of the Grapevine’s proliferation propensity. According to Prof. Keith
Davis, who researched Grapevine’s nature and identified four basic patterns or types of
grapevines, “Grapevine operates within and outside the organization linking almost every one
of the organizations and spreading the message quickly. It does not follow any definite
direction or pattern of flow of information. Nonetheless, the Grapevine is considered a channel
of horizontal communication; it is equally effective in vertical and diagonal communication.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Davis further explained that “in the gossip chain, one person seeks and
tells the information to everyone. A gossip chain is like the wheel where one person stays at the
center and passes the information to other employees.”

Most Living Facilities will undoubtedly experience a toxic workplace environment if they
fail to tap into, monitor, and wisely manage and influence the Grapevine. Living Facilities that
allow or tolerate gossip among the employees without concerted strategic intervention do so at
their peril.

Nevertheless, an open-door policy is a first and most effective way of influencing,
controlling and minimizing toxic workplace gossip. You must be honest with every employee
and ask the complainer to put all their concerns and complaints in writing, probably through
the suggestion box. You will find out that most will rather keep quiet about their complaints

when indeed, there are compelled to put them in writing. The lazy ones are usually the ones
that complain more than anyone else

When complaints are put in writing, you must then investigate thoroughly and respond
to that situation by feeding back the Grapevine. Suppose two employees have conflict or
differences that sustains the grapevine momentum. In that case, both must be asked to iron
out their differences before management can get into making a decision one way or the other.
Nevertheless, Management decisions must be based on the Employee Policy or Manual to
curtail any miscommunication. Meanwhile, it will be advisable to let both employees go if they
cannot iron out their differences, even after counseling. When your employees understand that
policy, you will begin to minimize this toxic Grapevine called gossip in the Living Facility.

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