Office Gossip Runs Rampant

… and that may not be such a bad thing

Call it an epidemic. Juicy gossip, jealousy and drama are rampant among many white-collar professionals.

In total, a whopping 72% of business professionals admitted to gossiping about workplace issues or coworkers while at the office, a new Office Pulse study of 529 white-collar workers found. All that gossip adds up. On average, American workers spend about 40 minutes per week solely gossiping. While a few minutes here and there may seem small, that time amounts to nearly 33 hours per year – almost a full work week. That doesn’t even take into account time spent on social media, surfing the web or general water cooler chit chat.

The daily rumor mill wasn’t just segmented to a specific group of workers. Numbers were high across all age groups, genders and management levels.

Do you ever gossip about workplace issues or your coworkers while at the office?







Gen Xers


Baby Boomers


Gossip Girl? Quite the opposite

While fewer men admit to gossiping, those who do admit to it really commit. Women said they gossiped about workplace issues nearly 34 minutes a week, while male professionals are the bigger blabber-mouths, gossiping for just shy of an hour every week.

Affairs and love triangles were a hot topic throughout many offices, but, surprisingly, those weren’t even the most scandalous rumors. While we can’t confirm or deny that any of these are true, professionals have heard some far-fetched gossip.

What’s the most outlandish gossip you’ve heard going around your office?

“A guy said our manager was breaking in his apartment drinking his wine and eating [his] cheese. No lie!,” according to one female professional.

“Someone borrowed money from another co-worker to pay a loan shark,” a male worker said.

“That they were using conference rooms to conduct their own outside business work,” one GenXer claimed.

“That they stole products and sold them at a local store and kept the money,” another affluent male worker said.

My Office is Basically Mean Girls

While you probably don’t have a Regina George running around your office jotting notes in a workplace “Burn Book,” most say that the high school clique-factor stays true once they enter the workforce. In fact, 72% of professionals said their office is at least “kind of” cliquey, and, in these cases, the divided environment coincides with a toxic workplace. When breaking it down, 12% of workers said their office was cliquey, describing it as “basically the movie Mean Girls,” another 60% said their workplace was “kind of cliquey.” 28% said there are no cliques; they’re “one big happy family.”

Respondents who reported having a “cliquey” office spent double the amount of time gossiping during the workday and were also much more likely to be jealous of a coworker.


  Cliquey Offices Non-Cliquey Offices
Gossip During the Workday 86% 54%
Average Time Spent Gossiping 54.8 minutes per week/ 5.71 working days per year 23.5 minutes per week/2.45 working days per year
Gossip About Executive/Management Team 57% 33%
Gossip About HR 29% 16%
Gossip About Their Boss 45% 24%
Jealous of Co-Workers 51% 28%

Despite the above nefarious consequences, gossip is not without its merits. Over a quarter (29%) of professionals said that the gossip going around their office is their “main source of information about what is going on in their company.” That statement was particularly true for Millennials, with 41% saying gossip informed them about workplace news.

And while gossip does have a negative connotation associated with it, there may be some other benefits to the buzz. Some studies suggest that gossip can help relieve stress and even help with self-improvement. A study from the University of California, Berkeley, found that when people learn about bad behavior through gossip, they learn how not to act.

The Jealous Generation

All this gossip can build up, creating jealousy among coworkers. While 38% of business professionals said they’ve been jealous of a coworker because of their success, that number spikes when looking specifically at Millennial workers (48%).

Not all officemates are enviable, however. Respondents identified the personalities they feel are the worst type of coworker, most of which won’t surprise you. Passive aggressive employees (24%) and drama queens/kings (21%) topped the list, while ‘know-it-all’ coworkers (19%) weren’t far behind.

Who do you gossip about?

“That one coworker” 71%
Executive/Management Team 44%
My Boss 34%
Clients 31%
HR 20%
Interns 5%

Time Spent Gossiping (By Age Group)

(Minutes Per Week)

Other Insights Include:

  • 30% said their boss has specifically asked them for gossip to learn about workplace issues

  • 29% said gossip builds workplace relationships

  • 1 in 5 have left a company due to workplace drama

  • 44% said gossip relieves their work-based stress

  • 42% of Millennials said gossip builds workplace relationships

The next time you gossip around the office, don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing. The grapevine could be building workplace relationships or even developing an inter-departmental circle of trust.


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