If you want your workforce to thrive, you need two things — transparency and trust. A recent survey1 by EY found that employees who trusted their bosses were happier, more productive, and stayed longer.
When it comes to trust, transparency is your most powerful tool. For businesses, this means sharing information across a large groups of people. But, depending on the size and culture of your organisation, it can be daunting knowing where to start.
Let’s dive straight in and look at what it means to be transparent at work.
What is transparency in the workplace?
Employees want to know what’s happening beyond the boundaries of their job. What are Team A’s strategic plans? What are Team B’s performance goals? How much does my manager earn?
And it’s more than just sharing stats and figures. Transparency means everyone feels free to speak up and say what they think. It’s no surprise that workplace transparency is a growing trend.2 The benefits speak for themselves — improved employee well-being, higher work quality and reduced turnover.
Nonetheless, some organisations struggle with knowing what to share and when to share it. If you need a little bit of inspiration on how to be more open, read on. Here are our top six practical tips on how to improve transparency in your business.
Tip 1: Make communication quick, frequent and inclusive
To really connect with your employees and make them feel valued and respected, you need to foster a culture of open and honest communication.
For instance, daily meetings or staff huddles are a great way to discuss the day ahead and solve any issues. Involve employees in agenda planning so everyone has buy-in and a say about what is discussed. Encourage peer-to-peer communication via apps like Slack. If employees talk more with each other, they’re more likely to develop personal bonds — strengthening feelings of trust and belonging.
If you work in a remote team where there’s little opportunity to pop into the office — consider running bi-weekly check-ins via video call. Make it consistent so everyone knows what to expect. Schedule the meetings for the same day and time each week and use a pre-agreed agenda that carries over every week, to ensure consistency.
Tip 2: Don’t sugar-coat the message — adopt transparency even when it hurts
The cornerstone of trust is honesty. Employees want to know where they stand and what’s happening around them. But hiding the facts will only make you look untrustworthy and disingenuous. Employees want credible authentic leadership. And there’s nothing more powerful than humility to level the playing field and make everyone feel equal.
Don’t fear bad news. If the financial forecast is looking bad, don’t hide it. Your employees will respect your honesty. Foster a culture of experimentation where mistakes aren’t feared. If a recent product performed badly, share the process and decision-making with your staff and ask for their feedback. They might have ideas on how to make it work better next time.
Tip 3: Transparency by default
No one likes being kept in the dark — especially at work. Backroom decisions and secrecy only breed gossip and distrust. Moreover, they can thwart business growth. You don’t want employees spending all their energy worrying about such issues, instead of focusing on their work.
Consider sharing information like revenue reports, investor updates, and general business performance to improve your organisation’s transparency.
Tip 4: Give your employees autonomy
Remember, not all your employees will be willing ‘sharers’. Forcing individuals to voice their thoughts and concerns could have a negative effect. Instead, give employees the autonomy to be transparent so it’s something they choose to do because they understand the benefits.
If your company uses objectives and key results (OKRs), ask employees to share these online with everyone. But don’t make it compulsory. Instead, point out the benefits — greater collaboration, more openness, less confusion about what others are working on.
Tip 5: Go viral and share your experiences online
We all know the motto ‘actions speak louder than words.’ This is true of transparency — it’s not enough to publish updates. Get online, write a blog, post on social media — share it with the world.
Here are some things you can do:
- Invite all employees to write a blog about their experiences
- Share performance data — for instance, how many customers you’ve helped, how much money you’ve earned and spent
- Post fun things — team events, videos of the office, charity work
Tip 6: Introduce an ‘ask anything’ culture
One of the fundamental factors in building trust is creating a safe space for employees to talk and be heard. As well as having an open-door approach and regular team meetings, make sure staff have a clear path to communicate with the leadership team too.
Consider holding weekly ‘town hall’ meetings where employees can ask the CEO and the leadership team anything. Make questions anonymous. This will help keep a level of accountability for those higher up in the company and employees don’t have to wait for an opportune moment to raise concerns.
Transparency is the free flow of information. It’s as much about sharing revenues as it is about individualised communication with the employee. Companies can no longer afford to manage workflows in a silo as it stifles growth. Moreover, transparency is fundamental to having a happy work environment where everyone is meeting their potential. By embracing it, you’re investing in your future success.
How to Create a Culture of Belonging >
Here are 8 practical steps for creating an inclusive culture in your workplace.
Actionable Advice from Top Company Leaders >
Tips from the top: How Highest Rated CEOs Inspire and Lead.
Culture Codes of Best Places to Work >
Our Best Places to Work winners – from Salesforce to HomeServe – share their unique cultures.
Employee Engagement Checklist >
Everything you need to create an employee engagement programme to improve productivity.
How to Hire for Culture Fit >
Hiring for culture starts with you. Learn how to incorporate culture into the hiring process.
1 Twaronite, K. (2016) A Global Survey on the Ambiguous State of Employee Trust. hbr.org
2 Fotsch, B and Case, J. (2017) Using Transparency To Build A Better Company. forbes.com