Transparency in business isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a rising employee expectation, an important factor in employee engagement and good business. Recent national surveys indicate it’s a top factor that influences employees’ happiness on the job. In fact, a 2016 Glassdoor survey said 90 percent of job seekers say it’s important to work for a company that embraces transparency. With U.S. employee engagement averaging only 31.3% in 2011 and still at only 32.7 percent five years later, businesses cannot afford to ignore it.   What’s driving the desire for transparency in the workplace?

Expectations are rising.

It’s a new day when it comes to engaging your employees. As consumers, they have instant access to more information than ever before, right at their fingertips. Thanks to the 24/7 news cycle they’re conditioned to receiving real-time information. And through social media channels, they are sharing more than ever before. Successful organizations understand their employees are consumers – and their expectations around information sharing (on-demand, authentic, transparent) have transferred into the workplace. Concealing information, traditional top-down message delivery and over-messaging information won’t cut it anymore.

Transparency leads to employee engagement.

Meeting employees where they’re at and using transparent business and communication practices improves employee engagement by impacting:   Inspiration. Millennial employees specifically gravitate toward companies that are both transparent and have a sense of purpose they can believe in and embrace. Articulate your purpose clearly honestly and consistently, then inspire employees to achieve that vision together.   Ownership. In order to deliver your business goals, employees must understand, internalize and live your organization’s mission, vision and values every day. By giving employees visibility to long- and short-term company goals, plans and other business metrics, you allow them to take ownership of their role in achieving those goals. Consistent, transparent communication is a critical tool to achieve this. For example, Beehive’s purpose, values and promise are made clear to our team and goals are tied directly to these values. In addition, goals should not be something written annually and dusted off for reviews. A Deloitte University Press article confirms that companies that revisit goals quarterly have three-fold greater improvement in performance and retention than those that revisit goals once a year.   Trust. According to an American Psychological Association survey on workplace and well-being, only 52 percent of employees think their employer is open and upfront with them. But leaders who are transparent in how, when and how much information they share help build a culture of trust – a key component in employee engagement. Don’t think you have to share only the good news. Keeping employees up-to-date on the status of the business on a consistent basis (and open up a dialogue around the results) is a key way to build this trust. Leaders should also look for opportunities to share information in person, invite questions and ask for input.   While transparency is only one element of employee engagement, considering the impact it has on how employees ultimately invest in the work and the future of the company, it’s a great place to start.

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