By Murong Li and Frankie Tin
Updated November 2021. First published November 2020.
A growing trend among leaders is to be more transparent with employees about organizational decisions. In conjunction, employees prefer to work for organizations that show honesty, authenticity, and transparency. Below, we will address what organizational transparency means, why it is crucial, and provide some best practices.
Why is transparency important for organizations and businesses?
Each organization may have their definition of transparency. However, a fundamental aspect of a transparent organization is how proactive an organization is in communicating how decisions are made and, further, having employee involvement in the decision-making process especially if those decisions affect staff directly. While this may seem tricky for organizational leaders to balance, several advantages to keeping staff involved can include:
Increased employee engagement. Workplace happiness is closely linked to how transparency is practiced in organizations. Employees tend to feel more engaged with their organization when leadership consistently updates staff and communicates about its strategy.
Employee motivation. Employees desire to know what is happening in the organization and seek information from the leadership team. Research shows that social connection is integral; human beings desire to be part of a group and fit in the group, which helps motivate our thoughts, actions, and feelings.
The strengthening of relationships. Transparency means candid, clear, and frequent communication, which also helps build trust and improve the relationship between leaders and employees. A CareerBuilder survey showed that 37% of the 3,008 employees surveyed were likely to leave their jobs due to a lack of connection with leadership.
As you reflect on the above and think about your organization, is there an opportunity to enhance your team’s practices? While every company may have different appetites for transparency, below are some best practices organizations can take into consideration to help cultivate a culture of open, safe communication:
Honesty is key. While leadership may practice honesty regularly, it is essential to convey honesty through open, consistent, and clear communication to help build trust and team cohesion.
Elaborate on the decision-making process. Taking time to explain the process will help employees understand why certain decisions are made and how they fit into the organizations’ overall strategic plan.
Incorporate transparency into the organizational culture. During staff-wide meetings or one-on-one check-ins, cultivate, and reinforce a transparent culture by giving people the opportunity to ask questions. Ask them directly what they think of decisions being made, or ask for feedback on how the process could improve.
Make information accessible. Define a central place where information is readily available to employees, like providing access to specific shared drive files or creating an organizational calendar to keep staff updated.
Utilize different means to reinforce transparency. For example, regularly conduct organizational temperature check-ins through pulse surveys to know what areas to improve. Host workshops or brainstorming sessions to encourage collaboration and trust-building amongst employees. These ideas will help organizations build on the meaning of transparency by targeting different areas – fundraising, programming, departmental strategies, employee benefits.
Transparency is especially critical now as most organizations work remotely, and employees are missing the in-person interaction with peers and leadership. Thus, organizations that reinforce and expand transparency will not only keep employees engaged but ensure people stay connected.
As always, feel free to contact Kiwi Partners' HR Services to discuss ways to enhance the overall transparency practices at your organization.