According to a new study, the average corporate employee sends 112 emails a day. And at least 17 of those are gossip.
The Georgia Tech study by Eric Gilbert examined 600,000 emails from an Enron database and found that 15 percent of the infamous company's emails were "gossip." Gilbert defines gossip as talk that involves a third party not in the conversation. The level of gossip prevailed at all levels, from junior employee to CEO, even though lower-level employees tended to circulate information to more people. And researchers found the gossip was overwhelmingly negative:
Workplace gossip is common at all levels of the organizational hierarchy, with people most likely to gossip with their peers. Moreover, employees at the lowest level play a major role in circulating it. Second, gossip appears as often in personal exchanges as it does in formal business communication. Third, by deriving a power-law relation, we show that it is more likely for an email to contain gossip if targeted to a smaller audience. Finally, we explore the sentiment associated with gossip email, finding that gossip is in fact quite often negative: 2.7 times more frequent than positive gossip.
Here's a chart showing that gossip tends to stay in the same organizational rank:
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