Study: 79% of US workers get company news from the office grapevine

Dive Brief:

  • The grapevine is the biggest source of company news for employees, a recent study shows. Office gossip beats out official corporate communication in keeping employees informed, according to Kollective’s Generation Now report. The study found 79% of U.S. workers and 77% of U.K. workers said they were more likely to find out company information from a colleague than through official communication. 
  • Nearly half of workers said they learned about company developments from outside sources like the media before information made its way to them through official channels. The study’s 2,000 U.S. and U.K. office workers said they feel seriously “out of the loop” in knowing what’s going on in their organizations.
  • Nearly half or workers (49%) are dissatisfied with communication from senior management. Most respondents (62%) said they want face-to-face communication from the CEO, either in person or via a video stream. 

Dive Insight:

This study highlights a critical communication gap at many companies. The risk is not only that incorrect or distorted information could make its way through the ranks, but employee morale and commitment could take a serious hit if employees aren't getting information directly from leadership. Employers cannot expect workers to stay focused on company vision and mission when internal rumors and external media reports are shaping the message.

Employers might take a cue from employees in the study about effective internal communication. Face-to-face is always the best way to communicate, especially when it comes from the organization’s top leader. Technology makes it possible to connect with employees throughout the organization in much more meaningful ways, even for employers with multiple worksites.

The office grapevine should never be the main source of information for employees, and external media reports are even worse. By not regularly communicating with employees, company leaders allow gossip to fill the void.

Employers must communicate with workers regularly, candidly and via face-to-face instead of through email or memos. And for potentially disruptive or negative communications like lay-offs, restructurings or mergers it becomes even more important that honest communication come directly from company leadership to keep employees from becoming unmotivated, or even worse bolting for another employer entirely. 

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