Gossip, Jealousy Run Wild in the Workplace



Juicy gossip isn’t just relegated to the halls of your old high school. It runs deep throughout the cubicles of America, with many white-collar workers using the grapevine as their main source for up-to-date information in the workplace.

In fact, over half of business professionals have admitted to gossiping about their co-workers during the workday, according to a new Office Pulse study of 305 white-collar workers. Of them, 25% said they take part in such chatter on a daily basis.

Do you ever gossip about co-workers while at work?


Gossip Girls: Women are much more likely than men to fuel the grapevine. 61% of women admit to gossiping about their peers, compared to just 39% of male professionals.

People love gossip. While your co-workers probably haven’t collaborated on an office “burn book,” they’ve certainly waxed poetic about the blasting AC or that one annoying co-worker.

What do you gossip/complain about the most at work?

Office temp (too hot/too cold): 26%

“That one co-worker”: 25%

Workload: 23%

Your boss: 13%

Clients: 9%

Not surprisingly, Millennials are the most likely generation to gossip about a co-worker (62%), followed by Gen Xers (51%) and Boomers (45%). And they might be onto something.

Despite its inherent negative connotation, gossip has been shown to relieve stress, encourage cooperation and foster self-improvement. People are actually more likely to trust someone who gossips, compared to someone who never spills the beans.

With open floor plans and new technology, which of the following (if any) has replaced the water cooler for talking about non-work topics with your co-workers?

Kitchen/common area
Traditional IM
Work email
Physical water cooler

What might be feeding into the gossip is jealousy among peers. Nearly a third (31%) said they have been jealous of a co-worker for their professional success or a recent promotion. This was especially true when looking at younger professionals. 45% of Millennials have been jealous of a co-worker for their success or a promotion. That’s double the number of Boomers (22%).

Other insights include:

  • Junior Managers (34%) and Middle Managers (32%) gossip/complain about workload more than Senior Managers+ (24%)
  • Millennials (35%) were most likely to gossip on a daily basis
  • Women were more likely to chat in a bathroom/hallway/empty office (43%) than men (30%)

So, the next time you hear something through the office rumor mill, just know you’re not alone. Know that you’re participating in a stress relieving practice that over half of your colleagues take part in, whether you realize it or not.


About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit www.captivate.com.