Supervisor Workplace Gossip and Employee Job Performance
The Mediation Effect of Employee Job Engagement
This paper examined the role of supervisor gossip on subordinate job performance. The paper hypothesized that supervisor’s negative and positive gossip influence employee job engagement which in subsequently affects employee job performance. Dyadic research design was used to collect data from a sample of 228 employees and supervisors from Kwa Zulu Natal Government Municipality, South Africa. The employees completed the questionnaire items on supervisor gossip and job engagement, while their supervisors completed the questionnaire items on employee job performance. Data collection was done in three waves. The study established that positive superior gossip positively and significantly influenced employee job engagement, which positively improved employee job performance; while negative superior gossip had a positive, but insignificant effect on employee job engagement. The study was limited by the multicultural nature of the municipality as well as the causality issues and common method biases associated with research design. Having managed to utilize Social Exchange Theory (SET) in disentangling the supervisor-subordinate reciprocal communication web, the study proposes that supervisors should inculcate effective strategies of utilizing both positive and negative gossip in the workplace so as to increase positive employee outcomes. Negative gossip will cause tension, stress and mistrust among employees, while positive gossip will lead to creation of workplace antagonism and competition. This study attempted to assess the implication of supervisor gossip on employee job engagement and performance in the public service sector, whose employees are characterized with high job security as compared to their peers in the private sector.
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