Recently had a conversation with a colleague who happened to mention to me that their workplace discouraged employees from engaging in conversation that was personal.
At first I was a bit surprised because where I work it is a pretty common thing that we mention things that are going on in our personal lives, with family, friends or events.
After asking a few questions as to why they had such a rule, I began to understand a bit better.
Their workplace has several departments that interact with each other in many ways throughout the workday. Co-workers would often have to go to get things from people in other departments visiting cubicles along the way.
They found that when employees mixed personal conversation during business on a regular basis that the company would have more employee issues with regard to gossip and backbiting, which lead to multiple problems, even termination.
These issues would take up valuable business time, which resulted in loss of productivity and revenue.
Therefore the company owners passed a policy requesting that employees practice professionalism at work veering from conversations regarding their personal lives while at work.
She mentioned that the business owners were not so hung-up on the policy as to not let employees ask, for example, how each other or their children were or if they had a sick parent that they could not share that with others.
The policy was established to limit the conversation and to be aware that if they were caught backbiting or gossiping that there were strict consequences for it.
She told me that most people feel that they policy has been good because they do not have to worry about a lot of the petty things that would happen like before. It also has allowed them to be more productive because they stay focused on work and that is what they are there for.
What is your company’s policy on mixing work and personal conversation in the workplace?