What could 600,000 emails from employees of the defunct Enron Corporation reveal besides some sketchy accounting practices?
Well, a good amount of gossip, for one.
14.7 percent of emails between employees of the company at the center of one of the biggest corporate scandals in history contained some form of gossip, according to a recent study from Georgia Tech, indicating that American co-workers talking -- or writing -- behind each other’s backs might not be so rare.
The emails, which are now available for study, were examined by researchers Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert for mentions of co-workers that weren’t included as recipients. They found that gossip, while common to all levels of the corporate hierarchy, occurred most often among lower-level employees. Gossip also tended to be more negative than positive.
But according to Gilbert, gossip isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be viewed “simply as a means to share social information.” Another study from the University of California, Berkeley found that gossip can lower workplace stress and prevent exploitation. Office gossip can also improve productivity by helping colleagues bond, according to Fast Company.
"I imagine corporate executives will probably take note of this," Gilbert was quoted as saying in a press release. "And then send an email to Jennifer down the hall saying that Bob in purchasing gossips all the time.”
Watch below for more on the study "Have You Heard?: How Gossip Flows Through Workplace Email":