6 ways to create transparency in the workplace

Recently, the Founder of Behave, Mayssa Chehata, posted a TikTok about how having an honest and transparent conversation with her friend helped her double her salary. When she discovered that her friend made twice as much as she did in a similar role, she realized the importance of workplace transparency.

But what is transparency in the workplace?

Transparency refers to the sharing of key information with employees regarding matters such as company decisions, strategy, and operations. It fosters collaboration, employee loyalty, and better decision-making processes.

In a recent report, 59% of human resources (HR) leaders indicate that they’re investing in transparency efforts. As more companies recognize its potential to impact the work environment positively, it’s a no-brainer to do so.

There are many different ways to implement transparency initiatives. However, very few bring in positive and tangible results that impact your bottom line.

This article will list several benefits of workplace transparency, examples of companies doing it right, and six ways to create a transparent workplace.

Why is transparency in the workplace important?

Transparent company culture has many positive benefits for improving the workplace environment and employee morale. Here’s what you can expect:

Builds trust and commitment between team members

When you employ transparency, employees are more likely to trust each other, as they’re encouraged to communicate constantly.

James Lowry, Founder of PathWise.io, says, “It starts with providing context—about the state of your industry, the state of your firm, and the state of your function. If you’re transparent about these things, employees will better understand the company’s situation and what it means for them.”

As employees are encouraged to share relevant data, discuss policies frankly, and have honest conversations, they develop better relationships too.

Ultimately, it builds trust as they know what to expect from each other.

Increases levels of employee engagement and happiness

A recent study found that regular communication via their preferred communication channel can increase employee satisfaction.

Employees perceive themselves as more involved when workplace decisions, processes, and communications are open and transparent. It leads to improved job performance, loyalty, and satisfaction.

Shared understanding also allows for a better flow of creative ideas within the workplace, resulting in an intellectually stimulating environment. All these factors contribute to happier and more engaged employees.

Removes generational silos and creates a cohesive workplace

At the moment, five generations form a part of the current workforce. Each has its way of communicating, preconceived notions, and expectations.

Mary Migiano, Senior Customer Success Manager Team Lead at Compt, says, “Think of the Baby Boom[er] Generation and how they view work. They often have unwavering loyalty to their companies, rarely take time off, work through being sick, tend not to negotiate pay raises, etc. We see the complete opposite happening with the newest and youngest in the workforce, Gen Z. For these employees, work is not personal, it’s all business, and they treat it that way.”

Integrating transparency can break these silos by encouraging employees to interact and learn from each other. It results in individuals incorporating a more nuanced and understanding perspective while communicating/working with other team members.

Encourages accountability for one’s actions

Accountability is critical to a well-oiled working environment. If employees shirk responsibility, hitting organizational goals in time becomes challenging.

Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director of Nexus IT Group, says, “When employees are aware of the actions and decisions of the company, they are more likely to take ownership of their own performance and be held accountable for their own actions.”

It becomes easier for managers to trust their employees, especially when online meetings are prevalent, creating a collaborative environment.

“This can lead to improved performance and better results for the company as a whole,” says Lindemoen.

Image of five thought bubbles to represent reflection meetings. Poll Everywhere

Examples of workplace transparency

Here are a few examples of companies employing workplace transparency successfully:

1.   Buffer — Salary transparency

Buffer takes salary transparency to the next level, publishing the salary ranges of all employees, including factors like local cost of living and prior experience.

The company is committed to ensuring no gender or racial wage gap and actively encourages companies it works with to take similar steps.

It even provides a public tracker of its diversity numbers, which are updated regularly.

2.   Asana — Meeting transparency

Asana utilizes a unique approach to meeting transparency that promotes team engagement and sparks creativity.

They publish detailed notes of their board meetings and upper-level management huddles, creating a learning environment where everybody can access the same information.

This open communication initiative gives everyone in the organization context and direction, helping them better understand company objectives. Plus, it allows employees to contribute their ideas and insights into achieving goals.

3.   GitLab — Public transparency

GitLab employs public transparency throughout its organization, allowing the company to share its successes and failures with the world.

They can showcase their progress and commitment to innovation by operating almost exclusively in public. GitLab’s blog posts, support tickets, Slack messages, and live streams of bug fixes and patch updates give the world an inside look into what goes on inside a successful all-remote operation.

By allowing outsiders access to such an integral part of their platform, GitLab opens itself up for collaboration and continuous improvement.

4.   Ro — Operations transparency

Ro utilizes operations transparency throughout its organization to empower its patients and bring clarity to the healthcare system.

The company has implemented systems that allow visibility into aspects like pricing information for medical services and drugs, drug sourcing details, and even physician compensation. By providing this level of detail, Ro can ensure that patients are informed when making decisions regarding their health.

It also helps to promote ethical behavior by physicians since they will be held accountable for their actions.

5.   Bankly — Pay transparency

Bankly ensures that its employees have access to the company’s compensation plans. Plus, they spend a significant amount of time explaining their pay structure.

Allan Stolc, Founder of Bankly, says, “We are also transparent about the ranking system that gives more rewards to top employees to encourage everyone in the organization to perform at their best.”

It ensures everybody is on the same page and is motivated toward the company’s goals.

6 ways to create transparency in the workplace

Here are six ways that you can implement a culture of transparency in the workplace:

Take an inventory of current organizational practices

It’s important to evaluate your own organizational practices before strategizing a transparency initiative.

According to Tim Toterhi, Chief Human Resources Officer of Plotline Leadership, company leaders should be objective while doing so. He says, “Companies should map that reality to their desired culture. You must know where you stand before taking the next step.”

Once you know where you stand, create a strategy to integrate transparency. You can start by explaining the following:

  • Company’s strategy
  • Expected performance scores
  • Compensation adjustments
  • Individual and business targets

It creates a sense of a shared goal, improving alignment between the leadership and employees.

Break down silos between different teams

Create a culture of open communication and break down silos between other teams. It helps employees feel seen within the organization and also ensures that decisions are made on a consensus—not a one-sided conversation.

Shirley Borg, Head of Human Resources at EnergyCasino, says, “During meetings, employees share their insights and ideas on what ideas could be changed, which the C-suite happily takes in. As a result, employees feel not only involved [but] genuinely participate in major decision-making.”

It also improves the company’s bottom line, as decisions are made after getting honest feedback from the team.

Approach conversations with honesty and diplomacy

Just because you’re honest, doesn’t mean you need to be brutally so. Instead, take a pragmatic yet clear approach to workplace conversations.

Anton Konopliov, Founder of Redline Digital, says, “Approach your employees like the responsible adults they are and convey news—positive or negative—honestly and firmly. There is no need to exaggerate good news or sugarcoat bad news. Your employees will get the truth one way or another, so it’s best if they hear it from you first.”

In addition, most managers make the mistake of sharing their wins but hiding their failures. Instead, share both. By doing so, employees can learn from each experience and will inculcate the same behavior going forward.

Implement an open-door policy as a manager

Open-door policies encourage employees to voice their concerns and share ideas with a sense of comfort. It also allows managers and employees to connect deeper and identify potential issues before they become a problem.

To do this, provide consistent and clear messages about your accessibility expectations. It helps ensure that everyone feels welcome to reach out when needed.

Berry Moise, Founder of Berry Mo and IT Project Manager, shares how this policy has helped him and the team develop a sense of trust and mutual understanding. In turn, this made it easier to work together and be creative.

At Poll Everywhere, we’ve experienced the firsthand benefits of implementing such a policy. Our leadership team uses it to create an open, honest, and collaborative work environment, which is key for instilling a culture of transparency.

Share critical performance metrics and data with employees

Too often, employees are kept in the dark about important business details and initiatives because it’s considered “management only.” But, that’s not true.

Only when you share this information will employees trust management and have more constructive feedback for such initiatives. It ensures that decisions are made on hard facts, not assumptions.

Karolina Kijowska, Head of People at PhotoAiD, recommends sharing critical business metrics like financials, sales, and employee engagement data. This practice sets the tone for clear and honest communication across the organization.

Managers must take it upon themselves to keep their employees up-to-date and equip them with the tools they need to interpret and make sense of this data.

Implement an “All Hands” meetings culture

An “All Hands” meeting culture ensures that every single individual knows what’s happening within the company. It encourages a collaborative and all-hands-in culture where everybody needs to contribute to the overarching business goal.

Asmita Paul, Senior Human Resources Generalist at HackerEarth advocates for this approach, as it allows them to ask questions, provide feedback, and resolve issues quickly.

Paul says, “By sharing organization updates over email on product roadmap, achievements, attrition, [and] headcounts, employees are kept informed about what is happening in the company and can feel more connected to its goals and objectives.”

It’s best to conduct every 30 or 45 days to keep them apprised of every milestone without hampering their regular schedules.

Workplace transparency is the key to a collaborative environment

Workplace transparency can have a significant impact on workplace culture. It fosters trust among employees and gives them a voice they may not have had before.

When management is willing to share information openly and frequently, it shows that they are proactive in their engagement with employees. But it’s important to ensure that it’s done tactfully, as an overly transparent culture could push employees to hide their shortcomings.

Also, managers gain greater insight into their team’s feelings, making it easier to align with their needs. It leads to better satisfaction and improved employee morale. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. You need to implement several initiatives to encourage a transparent work culture, which can be done using the strategies given in this article.

At Poll Everywhere, we’ve successfully implemented several transparency initiatives in the past. Every month, we run bi-monthly town halls with anonymous Q&A retrospectives at the end of these sessions.

We also conduct quarterly fireside chats with the executive leadership team with an anonymous Q&A at the end to gather feedback from our employees about critical topics. The Q&A sessions are conducted via surveys to ensure every individual feels comfortable providing honest feedback. In turn, every employee feels valued and is more invested in the company’s initiatives.

Interested in building a more transparent workplace culture with anonymous surveys and Q&A’s?  Sign up for a free trial of Poll Everywhere today.