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Pssst -- office gossip is declining, and it's getting kinder, too

Jobs and WorkplaceEconomy, Business and Finance

There’s less office gossip being whispered around the water cooler at work – and what’s being said is nicer too, according to a new report.

The rumor mill is a mainstay at 63% of companies, according to a new survey from staffing service The Creative Group. Four years ago, 84% of firms said chit-chatting at the company was commonplace.

Six out of ten times, the gossip is inoffensive and light-hearted, according to the report. And while 20% of the talk is negative, respondents said it wasn’t meant to be hurtful.

But not everyone wants to while away the hours chatting about colleagues. A separate, recent survey from electronics company LG found that 20% of workers in the United Kingdom believe that less gossip and office politics would save valuable time.

Some experts, however, believe that office gossip can actually be a valuable workplace tool.

A 2010 report in the Harvard Business Review found that, even though managers often ding rumormongers with lower performance ratings, gossipers often make strong personal connections with the people they spread information to.

Co-workers who share details are often rated by colleagues as having more influence in the office. Gossip can help staff members deal with anxiety and uncertainty, especially when upper management withholds information during times of crisis, according to the Harvard report.

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