Did you know? According to Deloitte Insights, 87% of all companies cite engagement and culture as one of their top HR challenges. Worldwide there is only 15% average engagement among employees, and 51% of the US employees are actively looking for other job openings. Many leaders push the responsibility of employee engagement (along with other employee-centric issues) on the HR and save themselves for more “important” issues like growing businesses, making trade treaties and partaking in product innovation. This leads to overburdening of one department – the Human Resource, and we all know excessive pressure is the perfect recipe for disaster. Employee engagement is not the responsibility of one department. It is a collective action, where management and HR department come together and come up with ways to keep employees happy. However, we also need to understand that employee happiness may not always equate to a hundred percent engagement. Apart from keeping the workforce happy and fun, employees should also believe in and stay committed to the cause of the organization. How do can we pull off such an intricate engagement plan? Well, by being honest, answering employees’ queries, letting them know what is happening and setting clear objectives (along with the reason behind). In short, it is all about transparency.
The Correlation: Engaged Workforce And Transparency
Transparency is not a new phenomenon or word in the corporate sphere. Simply put, transparency is the level, type and quality of information that is shared between the company and its employees. It is said that informed employees are more engaged and productive. But, then why is it that 4 out of 5 employees in the world are still not engaged? One of the primary reasons is the lack of transparency and discrepancy in the passing of information from C-suits to down the corporate ladder. Employees are mostly clueless and not aligned with the company’s vision and mission.
According to a report by Quantum Workplace 2015, trust in management is a key component for any kind of employee engagement. Employees should know –
- What drives their company?
- What are the company goals?
- Their (employees’) contribution towards achieving the goals
Communication and transparency foster that trust and determine the degree of effort needed to drive engagement. An SHRM survey found out “management’s communication of the organization’s goals and strategies” a key factor for engagement, giving “trust between employees and senior management” more importance (64%), than other employee engagement strategies.
How Is Transparency Enhancing Engagement?
Opting for the transparent type of leadership comes with a bag of bountiful benefits. Transparency helps in building strong employee relations (at all levels), which in return helps in growing and nurturing employee engagement. The connections and relations we make with our employees further help us in building the foundations for a healthy organizational culture. Transparency thus leads to –
- Collaboration: Transparency significantly affects employee collaboration in the workforce. Collaborative leaders need to be open and honest. A collaborative environment is a safe place where employees feel free to approach ideas, colleagues, managers and leaders. This means free flow of information between executives, team leads and team members. All departments should know (or at least have some idea) of what others are doing and how it is helping the company in reaching specific goals and objectives. Ensure that employee voices are being heard and the organization values their feedback.
- Empowerment: When you are assigning tasks, employees must know the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘the outcome of their work.’ True transparent leaders don’t “tell” employees what to do anymore; in fact, they act as a mentor and collaborator, using their influence, relationships and knowledge to guide employees towards success. Once you communicate to employees – why are they assigned that particular task? And how their work contributes to the organization’s goals, they will become more involved and less confused or demotivated.
- Trust: The bitter truth is, 45% of employees still don’t have trust in their employer when it comes to knowledge sharing. The is due to lack of transparency. Trust increases both commitment and respect. Everyone wants to hire and retain employees who are invested in your organization physically, mentally and emotionally. And that cannot be attained without trust. So, you need to start being honest. Involve your employees in both good and bad. Apart from celebrating success, discuss challenges and brainstorm problems. Create a work environment that is cooperative and feedback-oriented. 70% of employees feel more engaged when C-level executives are transparent and share company details with them regularly.
Tips For Managing Transparency At Workplace
- Treat your employees like your equal: Yes! You are the boss, and your employees know it too. Hence, instead of stringent hierarchies, try open-door policies. This will spark innovation that flows in multi-direction and will not just be limited to top-down.
- Know what ‘to’ and what ‘not to’ share: It is essential to share knowledge and information to align employees to the company goals. However, you can’t share everything. While some information may be confidential, others may simply be unrelated to their role or KRA.
- Empower employees to be accountable and take ownership: As we have established before, trust is a crucial component of transparency. Once you empower employees to take individual projects and trust them to make independent decisions, you will get more engaged, serious and accountable employees.
- Have a strong feedback mechanism: Employees should know what (or when) they are doing right or wrong. A constant feedback mechanism not only makes them work better but also aligns them to the work they are doing.
- Give recognition when it is due: When an employee is doing good work, you shouldn’t delay in giving the rewards or recognition they deserve. Regular recognition boosts employee morale and motivates employees to work better.
There is a powerful instinct called ‘self-preservation’ that drives all human beings. The revelation that the truth can be unpleasant, sometimes makes us hold back on transparency because it might make us feel vulnerable. As kids, we all are taught that honesty is the best policy. But what if there is nothing nice to say? Isn’t it better to keep quiet?
Well, transparency is not about throwing caution to the wind or blurting out whatever comes to mind. It is about understanding the benefit of honest and two-way communication in your office. Knowledge is power. Transparency, truth, and openness can help in spreading that knowledge and empowers people/businesses to work better, together.