How can I change our office culture of gossiping?

Friday December 11 2020
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Jane Muiruri

By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
I love my job, but the work environment is not conducive. There is a lot of backstabbing, gossiping and victimisation, which has led to many employees quitting.  Last week, my best friend resigned unexpectedly. This is weighing me down, but I am not ready to resign. Is there a way to fix a toxic work environment without leaving it? Ann.

Dear Ann, 
An organisation’s culture is its shared beliefs and values, which shape behaviour and interactions among colleagues. Your leaders have a responsibility to clearly communicate the values to all employees, and to ensure that all newly recruited candidates demonstrate them.
Policies and procedures must be clearly stipulated and applied fairly across the organisation to avoid stoking resentment amongst colleagues. In a toxic environment, the rates of absenteeism and voluntary attrition are usually high and more employees take sick offs because employees are demotivated and only show up at work for lack of a better option. 

Your leaders must lead by example and demonstrate prudence in their interactions with employees, and staff members also have a responsibility to live by the values. Most organisation seek to improve their culture because they are aware that a positive work environment will influence employee satisfaction and engagement, which translates to higher performance.

Do you hold a position of influence? If so, you can use your power to make a difference. If not, you can be a change agent and bring the change you desire. If your organisation gives an opportunity to employees to participate in a satisfaction and engagement survey, ensure you take part, and encourage your colleagues to give honest feedback.

Do not allow yourself to carry the baggage from work to your home. Identify the positive aspects of your job and the organisation, and associate with colleagues with whom you share similar values, and whose company you enjoy. 
A toxic work environment can affect your mental and physical wellbeing, and you might need to make a choice on what you can and can’t tolerate. Take care of yourself and seek psychosocial support as you decide on your next course of action.

Jane Muiruri, 
Senior HR Manager, 
Nation Media Group