They Heard It Through the Grapevine

Every organization, whether large or small, has an
informal communication network typically known as “the

Whether you like it or not, many employees get their
information (both accurate and inaccurate) from the
grapevine. In fact, a survey found that up to 75% of
employees first hear about things going on at their
organization through the grapevine.

The grapevine has two main characteristics:
1. It is not controlled by management.

2. Most employees perceive it as more believable and
reliable than formal messages issued by management.

These two characteristics explain why rumors flourish in

Research shows that rumors are particularly rampant when
it comes to situations such as downsizing, office
relocations, and new managerial appointments since these
items are important to employees and arouse anxiety.

HR POINTER: To minimize the impact of inaccurate
information that is disseminated on the grapevine, focus
on creating clear and open communications on issues:
A. That are important to employees,

B. That may be ambiguous or complicated, and

C. That are causing the highest levels of anxiety within
the workforce.

If you don’t communicate the correct information and don’t
make an effort to communicate frequently, employees will
fill the communication void with their own ideas, which
will often be inaccurate and create more anxiety.


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