Every month, we’re highlighting stories, trends and tips related to employee engagement and workplace culture that organizations should be keeping top-of-mind in order to engage, retain and recruit top talent.

1. The workplace rumor mill is now digital. Digital tools that enhance communication and collaboration are critical to today’s dispersed, always-on work environment. And while these tools are meant to make it easier to connect with others, they also make it easier for misinformation, rumors and gossip to spread – creating what this article refers to as “a culture of venting.” With Slack, Gchat and other tools serving as today’s proverbial water cooler, small seeds of discontent can quickly become big issues if not addressed appropriately (or if addressed completely inappropriately, as we’ve seen from the recent challenges faced by luggage company Away). Key takeaway: Office gossip has always and will always exist, but creating a culture of trust will keep it to a healthy minimum. And the best way to create that culture of trust is to be as transparent as possible with employees, and to address rumors and frustrations head-on before they have a chance to cause real damage. Here are tips for enhancing transparency.

2. EQ is becoming more important to employees and employers. A recent LinkedIn survey showed that employees want leaders who have a full range of soft skills in addition to hard skills. Among the most valued soft skills is emotional intelligence (EQ), with 39% citing the need for EQ among leaders. EQ can be defined in many ways, but often includes a mix of self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation. Interestingly, EQ also ranked as one of the top five soft skills most valued by employers in 2020. Key takeaway: While all employees should work on honing their EQ, it’s particularly important for leaders and managers to do so, since they should be modeling the behaviors they want to see in the workplace. However, 51% of respondents said their current leadership isn’t putting these skills into practice very well. Here are some tips for increasing EQ on your team.

3. More people, less engagement? Company growth is generally seen as a measure of success. But when a smaller company grows in head count, it can have a big impact on the company culture – and not necessarily a positive one. According to this Energage article, the threshold sits around 150; once a company grows beyond 150 employees, people stop feeling like one cohesive team or “tribe” and start feeling like just another number. And as this sense of belonging and connection goes down, so does their engagement level. Key takeaway: Regardless of a company’s size, having a clearly articulated purpose and set of values and behaviors will help employees feel united. And as the company grows, whether organically or through M&A, leaders must be proactive about maintaining the culture they’ve created. The above Energage article shares some ways to do this.

What are some trends that you’re seeing in the workplace? We’d love to share them in a future post! Check back next month for more.