How bad is gossip at your workplace? In a new study published via Office Pulse by Captivate (a network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays in office buildings across North America), nearly three-quarters of white-collar workers admitted to gossiping about workplace issues or coworkers while at the office.

The Findings

  • On average, American workers spend about 40 minutes per week gossiping.

  • More than half (55%) of men admit to gossiping while four in five (79%) women chat at the office. However, men prove to be the bigger blabber-mouths; they spend about one hour a week talking about the juicy stuff, compared to women who gossip just over 30 minutes a week.

  • Millennials are the most likely to gossip at work (81%), followed by Gen Xers (70%) and Baby Boomers (58%). 

  • Nearly one-third (30%) of professionals said that their boss has specifically asked them for gossip to learn about workplace issues.

  • More than a quarter (29%) said that office gossip is their "main source of information" about workplace news. That statement was particularly true for Millennials (41%).

  • As gossip builds up, jealousy increases. Thirty-eight percent of people said they've been jealous of a coworker because of their success; that number spikes when looking specifically at Millennial workers (48%).

Whom do you gossip about?

The majority of office gossip relates to specific workplace conflicts between coworkers, management teams, bosses, and clients. Here's the breakdown per the Office Pulse study:

"That one coworker" - 71%

Executive/Management Team - 44%

My Boss - 34%

Clients - 31%

HR - 20%

Interns - 5%

While gossip has a largely pejorative connotation, these types of conversations aren't always bad in the right context. Nearly half of respondents (44%) said that office chatter relieves their work-based stress, and 42% of Millennials said that it builds workplace relationships. 

The key is in making sure that these conversations are judgment-free and happening for the sake of conflict resolution. Granted, if it gets out of control, the logical thing to do is not engage in the gossip. If co-workers start to talk trash about another person, politely excuse yourself. This will send a message, in a non-confrontational manner, that you don't tolerate the behavior in a professional setting.