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Gossip good for sounding out ideas

London: Those who believe gossip is nothing but idle talk or rumour, think again, for a new study advises employers to use it to their advantage instead of fruitlessly seeking to stamp it out.

Gossip is believed to be one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts and views. At every place, home, school, college and of course office, we find gossipers who spend quality time in talking about others which may be of no importance to them.

Researchers have now advised companies to harness water-cooler gossip to test business ideas as informal channels could prove the perfect environment to sound out ideas.

They point to the example of a Sydney-based recruitment agency`s managing director, who could not afford to award all staff a pay rise but was worried that only doing so for some could adversely affect morale.

Instead, he chose to ignite a rumour by informing a key aide that he was seeking to award some employees pay rises in return for their taking on more responsibility. The rumour spread rapidly and the workers proved so supportive that the notion was adopted as policy, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported today.

Grant Michelson, the research director at Audencia Nantes Business School in France who has written a book about gossip in the workplace, suggests that employers should use it to their advantage.

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