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Is More Workplace Transparency Good for Business?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Small business owners with an eye on morale may need to increase their workplace transparency.

Transparency can be difficult to master, and Forbes notes that for many companies, the balancing act is too tough to even pursue. But according to a recent poll by People Driven Performance, 71 percent of employees feel they're in the dark about company goals and plans.

Can your business boost morale and productivity by being more transparent?

Why Employees Appreciate Transparency

With giant companies like Google and Verizon revealing their participation in secret government surveillance, employees may need some gentle reassurances that their employers are not Orwellian monsters. For many tech giants, they won a small victory in being allowed to disclose limited information about what the government was demanding from them.

The goal? To give at least the appearance of transparency despite being caught doing sneaky things without notifying consumers or employees. As the Forbes contributor notes, keeping secrets "makes employees less trusting, and less trusting employees are less likely to stick around."

Aside from wanting employees to trust your business, you also want them to be actively engaged. Even though holiday parties and bonuses have their financial and legal downsides, both tend to keep employee morale high, which may keep workers more actively engaged in the company's goals and mission.

By hiding less of your company's long-term goals from employees, they may feel less alienated or shut off by a corporate veil. Workers who feel more a part of the company and less like a replaceable cog are easier to retain and less likely to mentally check out.

Easy Ways to Be More Transparent

Increasing transparency doesn't mean revealing everything, but here are some small changes that can go a long way:

  • Open floor plans. According to Forbes, the more your physical workspace is transparent, the more your employees will understand (and not be turned off by) your organizational structure.
  • Make salaries public. Sites like Glassdoor already make many big company salaries public (albeit anonymously), and it may be a huge step toward transparency and trust if management feels willing to divulge their pay.
  • Open more meetings. Making the minutes or presentations from important meetings available on a company server or weekly email can get everyone up to speed on the company's goals and projects.

Finding the right transparency balance for your company may be difficult, but it should reward you with happier, more engaged employees.

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