Harassment, Hiring & Recruiting

What Happens When Employees Sabotage a New Hire?

You’ve searched everywhere and you finally have the perfect candidate. They have even accepted your job offer. All you have left to do is onboard that candidate.

She’s highly qualified and very personable. It should be a smooth transition. What could go wrong?

Workplace Behavior

The new hire could be in for some challenges you may not have anticipated. People talk, and conversations aren’t always positive. Indeed, they can be downright harmful.

Workplace gossip, when it involves spreading malicious rumors and innuendo, is a form of bullying, say the experts.

Why would an employee engage in gossip to bully a new hire?

There are numerous reasons, including:

  • The employee is an instigator or saboteur. Some people are troublemakers. They thrive on negative disruption and get genuine pleasure from watching plans unravel. What’s worse, they have the potential to infect others.
  • The employee wanted that job and didn’t get it. When an employee feels overlooked, slighted or unappreciated, he or she may act out. Yes, it’s childish, but childish behavior doesn’t always cease just because a person is an adult.
  • The employee doesn’t like change and is attempting to undermine it. Fear of change is more common than you might realize. Even when it is obvious that change is necessary, some people will resist any form of disruption to the status quo. It’s called comfort zone for a reason.

Employees who gossip about a new hire tend to seize on anything and everything, from the person’s qualifications for the job to the individual’s physical appearance and more.

These conversations among employees often take place face to face. In today’s world, workplace gossip also occurs via email, text, and on social media. Because there are more opportunities for communication, it is essential to address gossip about a new hire, ideally before it starts.

Supporting the New Hire

How do you do this?

Begin by keeping employees in the loop.

Once you have extended an offer to a candidate and she has accepted it, let staff members, especially those who will be working with the person, know. Among the details you want to share are:

  • The new hire’s start date
  • The new hire’s role and responsibilities
  • An overview of the person’s background
  • Any circumstances related to scheduling and location that impact staff – for example, if the new hire will be working in the office four days per week and telecommuting one day per week

After sharing this information, you should let staff know that you expect them to support the new hire and help her succeed.

When necessary, also speak individually to any employees you suspect may be disgruntled. For example, if a staff member was passed over for the job the new hire now holds, you’ll want to have a private conversation with that employee.

Then, going forward, you should be on the lookout for any signs that staff members aren’t supporting the new hire—or worse, that they are impeding her success.

A 2017 national survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute finds that 60.4 million Americans are affected by abusive conduct in the workplace. Workplace gossip that sabotages a person’s success fits the definition. Don’t let it derail your new hire.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.