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Engaging in negative gossip can harm morale in patient access areas. Some strategies:
When Kim Rice, director of patient access at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, CA, hears employees making negative remarks about colleagues, she wants both sides of the story.
“We then come up with an agreement and understanding of what is expected during working hours,” she says. Rice takes these steps.
1. She asks the employees being complained about for their feedback during a one-one-one meeting.
2. She reviews relevant hospital policies, such as dress code, attendance, or meal breaks, with the employee.
“Reflecting back on the policy is critical, so the employee doesn’t think it is a personal attack,” she says.
Rice brings up the fact that HR probably went over the topic during the employee’s orientation.
“I make it clear that I do not want to revisit the discussion moving forward,” she adds.
3. Rice conveys how gossiping hurts others on the team.
“I let them know as well if anyone tries to engage in bad conversation, that they should say to that person that they are not going to engage in gossiping,” Rice notes.
Rice instructs employees to encourage colleagues to come speak with management if they have concerns so issues can be resolved properly.
Using these proactive approaches, Rice has never had to let an employee go due to gossiping.
“One person’s negative behavior has a huge impact on the team. Employees will leave if they believe the issue is not getting resolved,” Rice says.
Brenda Pascarella, CHAM, associate director for patient access at Albany (NY) Medical Center, says gossiping “needs to be stopped immediately, or it can spread quickly within the entire department.”
One of the department’s tenets is “What We Permit, We Promote,” which leaders take to heart.
“Gossiping and negativity within a department can bring employee morale way down,” Pascarella says.
A supervisor or manager occasionally must intervene to hold staff accountable for their behavior.
“If staff is feeling a hostile work environment due to gossiping, then this would need to escalate to a manager,” Pascarella recommends.
Typically, though, Pascarella encourages staff to communicate directly with one another.
“When staff is able to directly convey to their coworkers how they are feeling, staff is able to fully realize the impact their actions can have on others,” she explains.
Sometimes, two co-workers and a manager come together for a mediated meeting.
“But the outcome is well worth the investment in time,” Pascarella notes.